Chapter no 6

The Secret History


Dionysus [is] the Master of Illusions, who could make a vine grow out of a ship’s plank, and in general enable his votaries to see the world as the world’s not.


The Greeks and the Irrational


JUST FOR THE record, I do not consider myself an evil person (though how like a killer that makes me sound!). Whenever I read about murders in the news I am struck by the dogged, almost touching assurance with which interstate stranglers, needle-happy pediatricians, the depraved and guilty of all descriptions fail to recognize the evil in themselves;

feel compelled, even, to assert a kind of spurious decency. “Basically I am a very good person.” This from the latest serial killer—destined for the chair, they say—who, with incarnadine axe, recently dispatched half a dozen registered nurses in Texas. I have followed his case with interest in the papers.

But while I have never considered myself a very good person, neither can I bring myself to believe that I am a spectacularly bad one. Perhaps it’s simply impossible to think of oneself in such a way, our Texan friend being a case in point. What we did was terrible, but still I don’t think any of us were bad, exactly; chalk it up to weakness on my part, hubris on Henry’s, too much Greek prose composition— whatever you like.

I don’t know. I suppose I should have had a better idea of what I was letting myself in for. Still, the first murder—the farmer—seemed to have been so simple, a dropped stone falling to the lakebed with scarcely a ripple. The second one was also easy, at least at first, but I had no inkling how different it would be. What we took for a docile, ordinary weight (gentle plunk, swift rush to the bottom, dark waters closing over it without a trace) was in fact a depth charge, one that exploded quite without warning beneath the glassy surface, and the repercussions of which may not be entirely over, even now.

Towards the end of the sixteenth century, the Italian physicist Galileo Galilei did a variety of experiments on the nature of falling bodies, dropping objects (so they say) from the Tower of Pisa in order to measure the rate of acceleration as they fell. His findings were as follows: That falling bodies acquire speed as they fall. That the farther

a body falls, the faster it moves. That the velocity of a falling body equals the acceleration due to gravity multiplied by the time of the fall in seconds. In short, that given the variables in our case, our particular falling body was traveling at a speed greater than thirty-two feet per second when it hit the rocks below.

You see, then, how quick it was. And it is impossible to slow down this film, to examine individual frames. I see now what I saw then, flashing by with the swift, deceptive ease of an accident: shower of gravel, windmilling arms, a hand that claws at a branch and misses. A barrage of frightened crows explodes from the underbrush, cawing and dark against the sky. Cut to Henry, stepping back from the edge. Then the film flaps up in the projector and the screen goes black. Consummatum est.

If, lying in my bed at night, I find myself unwilling audience to this objectionable little documentary (it goes away when I open my eyes but always, when I close them, it resumes tirelessly at the very beginning), I marvel at how detached it is in viewpoint, eccentric in detail, largely devoid of emotional power. In that way it mirrors the remembered experience more closely than one might imagine. Time, and repeated screenings, have endowed the memory with a menace the original did not possess. I watched it all happen quite calmly— without fear, without pity, without anything but a kind of stunned curiosity—so that the impression of the event is burned indelibly upon my optic nerves, but oddly absent from my heart.

It was many hours before I was cognizant of what we’d done; days (months? years?) before I began to comprehend the magnitude of it. I suppose we’d simply thought about it too much, talked of it too often, until the scheme ceased to be a thing of the imagination and took on a horrible life of its own.… Never once, in any immediate sense, did it occur to me that any of this was anything but a game. An air of unreality suffused even the most workaday details, as if we were plotting not the death of a friend but the itinerary of a fabulous trip that I, for one, never quite believed we’d ever really take.

What is unthinkable is undoable. That is something that Julian used to say in our Greek class, and while I believe he said it in order to encourage us to be more rigorous in our mental habits, it has a certain perverse bearing on the matter at hand. The idea of murdering Bunny was horrific, impossible; nonetheless we dwelt on it incessantly, convinced ourselves there was no alternative, devised plans which seemed slightly improbable and ridiculous but which actually worked

quite well when put to the test.… I don’t know. A month or two before, I would have been appalled at the idea of any murder at all. But that Sunday afternoon, as I actually stood watching one, it seemed the easiest thing in the world. How quickly he fell; how soon it was over.


This part, for some reason, is difficult for me to write, largely because the topic is inextricably associated with too many nights like this one (sour stomach, wretched nerves, clock inching tediously from four to five). It is also discouraging, because I recognize attempts at analysis are largely useless. I don’t know why we did it. I’m not entirely sure that, circumstances demanding, we wouldn’t do it again. And if I’m sorry, in a way, that probably doesn’t make much difference.

I am sorry, as well, to present such a sketchy and disappointing exegesis of what is in fact the central part of my story. I have noticed that even the most garrulous and shameless of murderers are shy about recounting their crimes. A few months ago, in an airport bookstore, I picked up the autobiography of a notorious thrill killer and was disheartened to find it entirely bereft of lurid detail. At the points of greatest suspense (rainy night; deserted street; fingers closing around the lovely neck of Victim Number Four) it would suddenly, and not without some coyness, switch to some entirely unrelated matter. (Was the reader aware that an IQ test had been given him in prison? That his score had been gauged as being close to that of Jonas Salk?) By far the major portion of the book was devoted to spinsterish discourses on prison life—bad food, hijinks in the exercise yard, tedious little jailbird hobbies. It was a waste of five dollars.

In a certain way, though, I know how my colleague feels. Not that

everything “went black,” nothing of the sort; only that the event itself is cloudy because of some primitive, numbing effect that obscured it at the time; the same effect, I suppose, that enables panicked mothers to swim icy rivers, or rush into burning houses, for a child; the effect that occasionally allows a deeply bereaved person to make it through a funeral without a single tear. Some things are too terrible to grasp at once. Other things—naked, sputtering, indelible in their horror—are too terrible to really ever grasp at all. It is only later, in solitude, in memory, that the realization dawns: when the ashes are cold; when the mourners have departed; when one looks around and finds oneself

—quite to one’s surprise—in an entirely different world.


When we got back to the car it had not begun to snow, but already the woods shrank beneath the sky, hushed and waiting, as if they could sense the weight of the ice that would be on them by nightfall.

“Christ, look at this mud,” said Francis as we bounced through yet another pothole, brown spray striking the window with a thick rataplan.

Henry shifted down into first.

Another pothole, one that rattled the teeth in my head. As we tried to come out of it the tires whined, kicking up fresh splatters of mud, and we fell back into it with a jolt. Henry swore, and put the car in reverse.

Francis rolled down his window and craned his head outside to see. “Oh, Jesus,” I heard him say. “Stop the car. There’s no way we’re going to—”

“We’re not stuck.”

“Yes we are. You’re making it worse. Christ, Henry. Stop the—” “Shut up,” Henry said.

The tires whined in the back. The twins, sitting on either side of me, turned to look out the rear window at the muddy spray. Abruptly, Henry shifted into first, and with a sudden leap that made my heart glad we were clear of the hole.

Francis slumped back in his seat. He was a cautious driver, and riding in the car with Henry, even in the most propitious of circumstances, made him nervous.


Once in town, we drove to Francis’s apartment. The twins and I were to split up and walk home—me to campus, the twins to their apartment—while Henry and Francis took care of the car. Henry turned off the engine. The silence was eerie, jolting.

He looked at me in the rear-view mirror. “We need to talk a minute,” he said.

“What is it?”

“When did you leave your room?” “About a quarter of three.”

“Did anyone see you?”

“Not really. Not that I know of.”

Cooling down after its long drive, the car ticked and hissed and settled contentedly on its frame. Henry was silent for a moment, and he was about to speak when Francis suddenly pointed out the

window. “Look,” he said. “Is that snow?

The twins leaned low to see. Henry, biting his lower lip, paid no attention. “The four of us,” he said, at last, “were at a matinee at the Orpheum in town—a double feature that ran from one o’clock to four-fifty-five. Afterwards we went on a short drive, returning—” he checked his watch—“at five-fifteen. That accounts for us, all right. I’m not sure what to do about you.”

“Why can’t I say I was with you?” “Because you weren’t.”

“Who’ll know the difference?”

“The ticket girl at the Orpheum, that’s who. We went down and bought tickets for the afternoon show, paid for them with a hundred-dollar bill. She remembers us, I can assure you of that. We sat in the balcony and slipped out the emergency exit about fifteen minutes into the first movie.”

“Why couldn’t I have met you there?”

“You could have, except you don’t have a car. And you can’t say you took a cab because that can be easily checked. Besides, you were out walking around. You say you were in Commons before you met us?”


“Then I suppose there’s nothing you can say except that you went straight home. It’s not an ideal story, but at this point you don’t have any alternative to speak of. We’ll have to imagine you met up with us at some point after the movie, in the quite likely event that someone has seen you. Say we called you at five o’clock and met you in the parking lot. You rode with us to Francis’s—really, this doesn’t follow very smoothly, but it’ll have to do—and walked home again.”

“All right.”

“When you get home, check downstairs in case any phone messages were left for you between three-thirty and five. If there were, we’ll have to think of some reason why you didn’t take the calls.”

“Look, you guys,” Charles said. “It’s really snowing.” Tiny flakes, just visible at the tops of the pines.

“One more thing,” said Henry. “We don’t want to behave as if we’re waiting around to hear some momentous piece of news. Go home. Read a book. I don’t think we ought to try to contact one another tonight—unless, of course, it’s absolutely necessary.”

“I’ve never seen it snow this late in the year.” Francis was looking out the window. “Yesterday it was nearly seventy degrees.”

“Were they predicting that?” Charles said. “Not that I heard.”

“Christ. Look at this. It’s almost Easter.”

“I don’t see why you’re so excited,” Henry said crossly. He had a pragmatic, farmer-like knowledge of how weather conditions affected growth, germination, blooming times, et cetera. “It’s just going to kill all the flowers.”


I walked home fast, because I was cold. A November stillness was settling like a deadly oxymoron on the April landscape. Snow was falling in earnest now—big silent petals drifting through the springtime woods, white bouquets segueing into snowy dark: a nightmarish topsy-turvy land, something from a story book. My path took me beneath a row of apple trees, full-blown and luminous, shivering in the twilight like an avenue of pale umbrellas. The big white flakes wafted through them, dreamy and soft. I did not stop to look, however, only hurried beneath them even faster. My winter in Hampden had given me a horror of snow.

There were no messages for me downstairs. I went up to my room, changed my clothes, couldn’t decide what to do with the ones I’d taken off, thought of washing them, wondered if it might look suspicious, finally stuffed them all at the very bottom of my laundry bag. Then I sat down on my bed and looked at the clock.

It was time for dinner and I hadn’t eaten all day but I wasn’t hungry. I went to the window and watched the snowflakes whirl in the high arcs of light above the tennis courts, then crossed over and sat upon my bed again.

Minutes ticked by. Whatever anesthesia had carried me through the event was starting to wear off and with each passing second the thought of sitting around all night, alone, was seeming more and more unbearable. I turned on the radio, switched it off, tried to read. When I found I couldn’t hold my attention on one book I tried another. Scarcely ten minutes had passed. I picked up the first book and put it down again. Then, against my better judgment, I went downstairs to the pay phone and dialed Francis’s number.

He answered on the first ring. “Hi,” he said, when I told him it was me. “What is it?”


“Are you sure?”

I heard Henry murmuring in the background. Francis, his mouth

away from the receiver, said something that I couldn’t catch. “What are you guys doing?” I said.

“Not much. Having a drink. Hold on a second, would you?” he said, in response to another murmur.

There was a pause, an indistinct exchange, and then Henry’s brisk voice came on the line. “What’s the matter? Where are you?” he said.

“At home.” “What’s wrong?”

“I just wondered if maybe I could come over for a drink or something.”

“That’s not a good idea. I was just leaving when you called.” “What are you going to do?”

“Well, if you want to know the truth, I’m going to take a bath and go to bed.”

The line was silent for a moment. “Are you still there?” Henry said.

“Henry, I’m going crazy. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“Well, do anything you like,” Henry said amiably. “As long as you stick pretty close to home.”

“I don’t see what difference it would make if I—”

“When you’re worried about something,” said Henry abruptly, “have you ever tried thinking in a different language?”


“It slows you down. Keeps your thoughts from running wild. A good discipline in any circumstance. Or you might try doing what the Buddhists do.”


“In the practice of Zen there is an exercise called zazen—similar, I think, to the Theravadic practice of vipassana. One sits facing a blank wall. No matter the emotion one feels, no matter how strong or violent, one remains motionless. Facing the wall. The discipline, of course, is in continuing to sit.”

There was a silence, during which I struggled for language to adequately express what I thought of this goofball advice.

“Now, listen,” he continued, before I could say anything. “I’m exhausted. I’ll see you in class tomorrow, all right?”

Henry,” I said, but he’d hung up.

In a sort of trance, I walked upstairs. I wanted a drink badly but I had nothing to drink. I sat down on my bed and looked out the window.

My sleeping pills were all gone. I knew they were gone but I went to my bureau and checked the bottle just in case. It was empty except for some vitamin C tablets I’d got from the infirmary. Little white pills. I poured them on my desk, arranged them in patterns and then I took one, hoping that the reflex of swallowing would make me feel better, but it didn’t.

I sat very still, trying not to think. It seemed as if I was waiting for something, I wasn’t sure what, something that would lift the tension and make me feel better, though I could imagine no possible event, in past, present, or future, that would have either effect. It seemed as if an eternity had passed. Suddenly, I was struck by a horrible thought: is this what it’s like? Is this the way it’s going to be from now on?

I looked at the clock. Scarcely a minute had gone by. I got up, not bothering to lock the door behind me, and went down the hall to Judy’s room.

By some miracle, she was in—drunk, putting on lipstick. “Hi,” she said, without glancing away from the mirror. “Want to go to a party?”

I don’t know what I said to her, something about not feeling well. “Have a bagel,” she said, turning her head from side to side and

examining her profile.

“I’d rather a sleeping pill, if you’ve got one.”

She screwed the lipstick down, snapped on the top, then opened the drawer of her dressing table. It was not actually a dressing table but a desk, college-issue, just like the one in my room; but like some savage unable to understand its true purpose—transforming it into a weapon rack, say, or a flower-decked fetish—she had painstakingly turned it into a cosmetics area, with a glass top and a ruffled satin skirt and a three-way mirror on the top that lit up. Scrabbling through a nightmare of compacts and pencils, she pulled out a prescription bottle, held it to the light, tossed it into the trash can and selected a new one. “This’ll do,” she said, handing it to me.

I examined the bottle. There were two drab tablets at the bottom.

All the label said was FOR PAIN.

I said, annoyed, “What is this? Anacin or something?” “Try one. They’re okay. This weather’s pretty wild, huh?”

“Yeah,” I said, swallowing a pill and handing the bottle back. “Don’t worry, keep it,” she said, already returned to her toilette.

“Man. All it does here is fucking snow. I don’t know why the hell I ever came here. You want a beer?”

She had a refrigerator in her room, in the closet. I fought my way through a jungle of belts and hats and lacy shirts to get to it.

“No, I don’t want one,” she said when I held one out to her. “Too fucked up. You didn’t go to the party, did you?”

“No,” I said, and then stopped, the beer bottle at my lips. There was something about the taste of it, the smell, and then I remembered: Bunny, the beer on his breath; spilled beer foaming on the ground. The bottle clattering after him down the slope.

“Smart move,” said Judy. “It was cold and the band stunk. I saw your friend, what’s-his-name. The Colonel.”


She laughed. “You know. Laura Stora calls him that. She used to live next door to him and he irritated the shit out of her playing these John Philip Sousa marching records all the time.”

She meant Bunny. I set the bottle down.

But Judy, thank God, was busy with the eyebrow pencil. “You know,” she said, “I think Laura has an eating disorder, not anorexia, but that Karen Carpenter thing where you make yourself puke. Last night I went with her and Trace to the Brasserie, and, I’m totally serious, she stuffed herself until she could not breathe. Then she went in the men’s room to barf and Tracy and I were looking at each other, like, is this normal? Then Trace told me, well, you remember that time Laura was supposedly in the hospital for mono? Well. The story is that actually …

She rattled on. I stared at her, lost in my own awful thoughts.

Suddenly I realized she’d stopped talking. She was looking at me expectantly, waiting for a reply.

“What?” I said.

“I said, isn’t that the most retarded thing you ever heard?” “Ummmm.”

“Her parents just must not give a shit.” She closed the makeup drawer and turned to face me. “Anyway. You want to come to this party?”

“Whose is it?”

“Jack Teitelbaum’s, you airhead. Durbinstall basement. Sid’s band is supposed to play, and Moffat’s back on the drums. And somebody said something about a go-go dancer in a cage. Come on.”

For some reason I was unable to answer her. Unconditional refusal to Judy’s invitations was a reflex so deeply ingrained that it was hard to force myself to say yes. Then I thought of my room. Bed, bureau,

desk. Books lying open where I’d left them.

“Come on,” she said coquettishly. “You never go out with me.” “All right,” I said at last. “Let me get my coat.”


Only much later did I find out what Judy had given me: Demerol. By the time we got to the party it had started to kick in. Angles, colors, the riot of snowflakes, the din of Sid’s band—everything was soft and kind and infinitely forgiving. I noted a strange beauty in the faces of people previously repulsive to me. I smiled at everyone and everyone smiled back.

Judy (Judy! God bless her!) left me with her friend Jack Teitelbaum and a fellow named Lars and went off to get us a drink. Everything was bathed in a celestial light. I listened to Jack and Lars talk about pinball, motorcycles, female kick-boxing, and was heartwarmed at their attempts to include me in the conversation. Lars offered me a bong hit. The gesture was, to me, tremendously touching and all of a sudden I realized I had been wrong about these people. These were good people, common people; the salt of the earth; people whom I should count myself fortunate to know.

I was trying to think of some way to vocalize this epiphany when Judy came back with the drinks. I drank mine, wandered off to get another, found myself roaming in a fluid, pleasant daze. Someone gave me a cigarette. Jud and Frank were there, Jud with a cardboard crown from Burger King on his head. This crown was oddly flattering to him. Head thrown back and howling with laughter, brandishing a tremendous mug of beer, he looked like Cuchulain, Brian Boru, some mythic Irish king. Cloke Rayburn was shooting pool in the back room. Just outside his line of vision, I watched him chalk the cue, unsmiling, and bend over the table so his hair fell in his face. Click. The colored balls spun out in all directions. Flecks of light swam in my eyes. I thought of atoms, molecules, things so small you couldn’t even see them.

Then I remember feeling dizzy, pushing through the crowd to try to

get some air. I could see the door propped invitingly with a cinder block, could feel a cold draft on my face. Then—I don’t know, I must’ve blacked out, because the next thing I knew my back was against a wall, in an entirely different place, and a strange girl was talking to me.

Gradually I understood that I must have been standing there with her for some time. I blinked, and struggled gamely to bring her into

focus. Very pretty, in a snub-nosed, good-natured way; dark hair, freckles, light blue eyes. I had seen her earlier, somewhere, in line at the bar maybe, had seen her without paying her much attention. And now here she was again, like an apparition, drinking red wine from a plastic cup and calling me by name.

I couldn’t make out what she was saying, though the timbre of her voice was clear even over the noise: cheerful, raucous, oddly pleasant. I leaned forward—she was a small girl, barely five feet—and cupped a hand to my ear. “What?” I said.

She laughed, stretched up on tiptoe, brought her face close to mine.

Perfume. Hot thunder of whisper against my cheek.

I grabbed her by the wrist. “It’s too noisy,” I said in her ear; my lips brushed against her hair. “Let’s go outside.”

She laughed again. “But we just came in,” she said. “You said you were freezing.”

Hmmn, I thought. Her eyes were pale, bored, regarding me with a kind of intimate amusement in the jaded light.

“Somewhere quiet, I mean,” I said.

She turned up her glass and looked at me through the bottom of it. “Your room or mine?”

“Yours,” I said, without a moment’s hesitation.


She was a good girl, a good sport. Sweet chuckles in the dark and her hair falling across my face, funny little catches in her breath like the girls back in high school. The warm feel of a body in my arms was something I’d almost forgotten. How long since I’d kissed anyone that way? Months, and more months.

Strange to think how simple things could be. A party, some drinks, a pretty stranger. That was the way most of my classmates lived— talking rather self-consciously at breakfast about their liaisons of the previous night, as if this harmless, homey little vice, which fell somewhere below drink and above gluttony in the catalogue of sins, was somehow the abyss of depravity and dissipation.

Posters; dried flowers in a beer mug; the luminous glow of her stereo in the dark. It was all too familiar from my suburban youth, yet now seemed unbelievably remote and innocent, a memory from some lost Junior Prom. Her lip gloss tasted like bubble gum. I buried my face in the soft, slightly acrid-smelling flesh of her neck and rocked her back and forth—babbling, mumbling, feeling myself fall down and down, into a dark, half-forgotten life.


I woke at two-thirty—according to the flashing, demonic red of a digital clockface—in an absolute panic. I’d had a dream, nothing scary really, in which Charles and I were on a train, trying to evade a mysterious third passenger. The cars were packed with people from the party—Judy, Jack Teitelbaum, Jud in his cardboard crown—as we lurched through the aisles. Throughout the dream, however, I’d had a feeling that it was all unimportant, that I actually had a far more pressing worry if only I could remember it. Then I did remember, and the shock of it woke me up.

It was like waking from a nightmare to a worse nightmare. I sat up, heart pounding, slapping at the blank wall for the light switch until the terrible realization dawned on me that I was not in my own room. Strange shapes, unfamiliar shadows, crowded horribly around me; nothing offered any clue to my whereabouts, and for a few delirious moments I wondered if I was dead. Then I felt the sleeping body next to mine. Instinctively I recoiled, and then I prodded it gently with my elbow. It didn’t move. I lay in bed for a minute or two, trying to collect my thoughts; then I got up, found my clothes, dressed as best as I could in the dark, and left.

Stepping outside, I slipped on an icy step and pitched, face-forward, into more than a foot of snow. I lay still for a moment, then raised myself to my knees and looked about in disbelief. A few snowflakes were one thing, but I had not thought it possible for weather to change as suddenly and violently as this. The flowers were buried, and the lawn; everything had disappeared. An expanse of clean, unbroken snow stretched blue and twinkling as far as I could see.

My hands were raw and my elbow felt bruised. With some effort, I got to my feet. When I turned to see where I’d come from, I was horrified to realize I’d just walked out of Bunny’s own dorm. His window, on the ground floor, stared back at me black and silent. I thought of his spare glasses lying on the desk; the empty bed; the family photographs smiling in the dark.

When I got back to my room—by a confused, circular route—I fell on my bed without taking off my coat or shoes. The lights were on, and I felt weirdly exposed and vulnerable but I didn’t want to turn them off. The bed was rocking a little, like a raft, and I kept a foot on the floor to steady it.

Then I fell asleep, and slept very soundly for a couple of hours until I was awakened by a knock at the door. Seized by fresh panic, I

fought to sit up in the tangle of my coat, which had somehow got twisted around my knees and seemed to be attacking me with the force of a living creature.

The door creaked open. Then no sound at all. “What the hell is wrong with you?” said a sharp voice.

Francis was in the doorway. He stood with one black-gloved hand on the knob, looking at me like I was a lunatic.

I stopped struggling and fell back on my pillow. I was so glad to see him I felt like laughing, and I was so doped up I probably did. “François,” I said idiotically.

He shut the door and came over to my bed, where he stood looking down at me. It was really him—snow in his hair, snow on the shoulders of his long black overcoat. “Are you okay?” he said, after a long, derisive pause.

I rubbed my eyes and tried again. “Hi,” I said. “I’m sorry. I’m fine.


He stood looking at me with no expression and did not answer. Then he took off his coat and laid it over the back of a chair. “Do you want some tea?” he said.


“Well, I’m going to go make some, if you don’t mind.”

By the time he was back I was more or less myself. He put the kettle on the radiator and helped himself to some tea bags from my bureau drawer. “Here,” he said. “You can have the good teacup. There wasn’t any milk in the kitchen.”

It was a relief to have him there. I sat up and drank my tea and watched him take off his shoes and socks. Then he put them by the radiator to dry. His feet were long and thin, too long for his slim, bony ankles; he flexed his toes, looked up at me. “It’s an awful night,” he said. “Have you been outside?”

I told him a little about my night, omitting the part about the girl. “Gosh,” he said, reaching up to loosen his collar. “I’ve just been

sitting in my apartment. Giving myself the creeps.” “Heard from anyone?”

“No. My mother called around nine; I couldn’t talk to her. Told her I was writing a paper.”

For some reason my eyes strayed to his hands, fidgeting unconsciously on the top of my desk. He saw that I saw, forced them down, palms flat. “Nerves,” he said.

We sat for a while without saying anything. I put my teacup on the

windowsill and leaned back. The Demerol had set off some kind of weird Doppler effect in my head, like the whine of car tires speeding past and receding in the distance. I was staring across the room in a daze—how long, I don’t know—when gradually I became aware that Francis was looking at me with an intent, fixed expression on his face. I mumbled something and got up and went to the bureau to get an Alka-Seltzer.

The sudden movement made me feel light-headed. I was standing there dully, wondering where I’d put the box, when all of a sudden I became aware that Francis was immediately behind me, and I turned around.

His face was very close to mine. To my surprise he put his hands on my shoulders and leaned forward and kissed me, right on the mouth.

It was a real kiss—long, slow, deliberate. He’d caught me off balance and I grabbed his arm to keep from falling; sharply, he drew in his breath and his hands went down to my back and before I knew it, more from reflex than anything else, I was kissing him, too. His tongue was sharp. His mouth had a bitter, mannish taste, like tea and cigarettes.

He pulled away, breathing hard, and leaned to kiss my throat. I looked rather wildly around the room. God, I thought, what a night.

“Look, Francis,” I said, “cut it out.”

He was undoing the top button of my collar. “You idiot,” he said, chuckling. “Did you know your shirt’s on inside-out?”

I was so tired and drunk I started to laugh. “Come on, Francis,” I said. “Give me a break.”

“It’s fun,” he said. “I promise you.”

Matters progressed. My jaded nerves began to stir. His eyes were magnified and wicked behind his pince-nez. Presently he took them off and dropped them on my bureau with an absent clatter.

Then, quite unexpectedly, there was another knock at the door. We sprang apart. His eyes were wide. We stared at each other, and then the knock came again.

Francis swore under his breath, bit his lip. I, panic-stricken, buttoning my shirt as fast as my numb fingers would go, started to say something but he made a quick, shushing gesture at me with his hand.

“But what if it’s—?” I whispered.

I had been about to say “What if it’s Henry?” But what I was actually thinking was “What if it’s the cops?” Francis, I knew, was thinking the same thing.

More knocking, more insistent this time.

My heart was pounding. Bewildered with fear, I crossed to my bed and sat down.

Francis ran a hand through his hair. “Come in,” he called.

I was so upset that it took me a moment to realize it was only Charles. He was leaning with one elbow against the door frame, his red scarf slung into great careless loops around his neck. When he stepped in my room I saw immediately that he was drunk. “Hi,” he said to Francis. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“You scared us to death.”

“I wish I’d known you were coming. Henry called and got me out of bed.”

The two of us looked at him, waiting for him to explain. He jostled off his coat and turned to me with a watery, intense gaze. “You were in my dream,” he said.


He blinked at me. “I just remembered,” he said. “I had a dream tonight. You were in it.”

I stared at him. Before I had a chance to tell him he was in my dream, too, Francis said impatiently: “Come on, Charles. What’s the matter?”

Charles ran a hand through his windblown hair. “Nothing,” he said. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a sheaf of papers folded lengthwise. “Did you do your Greek for today?” he asked me.

I rolled my eyes. Greek had been the about the last thing on my mind.

“Henry thought you might have forgot. He called and asked me to bring mine for you to copy, just in case.”

He was very drunk. He wasn’t slurring his words, but he smelled of whiskey and he was extremely unsteady on his feet. His face was flushed and radiant as an angel’s.

“You talked to Henry? Has he heard anything?”

“He’s very annoyed about this weather. Nothing’s turned up that he knows of. Gosh, it’s hot in here,” he said, shouldering off his jacket.

Francis, sitting in his chair by the window with an ankle balanced upon the opposite kneecap and his teacup balanced on his bare ankle, was looking at Charles rather narrowly.

Charles turned, reeling slightly. “What are you looking at?” he said. “Do you have a bottle in your pocket?”


“Nonsense, Charles, I can hear it sloshing.” “What difference does it make?”

“I want a drink.”

“Oh, all right,” said Charles, irritated. He reached into the inside pocket of the jacket and brought out a flat pint bottle. “Here,” he said. “Don’t be a pig.”

Francis drank the rest of his tea and reached for the bottle. “Thanks,” he said, pouring the remaining inch or so into his teacup. I looked at him—dark suit, sitting very straight with his legs now crossed at the knee. He was the picture of respectability except that his feet were bare. All of a sudden I found myself able to see him as the world saw him, as I myself had seen him when I first met him— cool, well-mannered, rich, absolutely beyond reproach. It was such a convincing illusion that even I, who knew the essential falseness of it, felt oddly comforted.

He drank the whiskey down in a swallow. “We need to sober you up, Charles,” he said. “We’ve got class in a couple of hours.”

Charles sighed and sat on the foot of my bed. He looked very tired, a regard which manifested itself not in dark circles, or pallor, but a dreamy and bright-cheeked sadness. “I know,” he said. “I hoped the walk might do the trick.”

“You need some coffee.”

He wiped his damp forehead with the heel of his hand. “I need more than coffee,” he said.

I smoothed out the papers and went over to my desk and began to copy out my Greek.

Francis sat down on the bed next to Charles. “Where’s Camilla?” “Asleep.”

“What’d you two do tonight? Get drunk?” “No,” said Charles tersely. “Cleaned house.” “No. Really.”

“I’m not kidding.”

I was still so dopey that I couldn’t make any sense of the passage I was copying, only a sentence here and there. Being weary from the march, the soldiers stopped to offer sacrifices at the temple. I came back from that country and said that I had seen the Gorgon, but it did not make me a stone.

“Our house is full of tulips, if you want any,” said Charles inexplicably.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, before the snow got too deep, we went outside and brought them in. Everything’s full of them. The water glasses, even.”

Tulips, I thought, staring at the jumble of letters before me. Had the ancient Greeks known them under a different name, if they’d had tulips at all? The letter psi, in Greek, is shaped like a tulip. All of a sudden, in the dense alphabet forest of the page, little black tulips began to pop up in a quick, random pattern like falling raindrops.

My vision swam. I closed my eyes. I sat there for a long time, half-dozing, until I became aware that Charles was saying my name.

I turned in my chair. They were leaving. Francis was sitting on the side of my bed, lacing his shoes.

“Where are you going?” I said. “Home to dress. It’s getting late.”

I didn’t want to be alone—quite the contrary—but I felt, unaccountably, a strong desire to be rid of them both. The sun was up. Francis reached over and turned off the lamp. The morning light was sober and pale and made my room seem horribly quiet.

“We’ll see you in a little while,” he said, and then I heard their footsteps dying on the stair. Everything was faded and silent in the dawn—dirty teacups, unmade bed, snowflakes floating past the window with an airy, dangerous calm. My ears rang. When I turned back to my work, with trembling, ink-stained hands, the scratch of my pen on the paper rasped loud in the stillness. I thought of Bunny’s dark room and of the ravine, miles away; of all those layers of silence on silence.


“And where is Edmund this morning?” said Julian as we opened our grammars.

“At home, I suppose,” said Henry. He’d come in late and we hadn’t had a chance to talk. He seemed calm, well rested, more than he had any right to be.

The others were surprisingly calm as well. Even Francis and Charles were well dressed, freshly shaven, very much their unconcerned old selves. Camilla sat between them, with her elbow propped negligently on the table and her chin in her hand, tranquil as an orchid.

Julian arched an eyebrow at Henry. “Is he ill?” “I don’t know.”

“This weather may have slowed him a bit. Perhaps we should wait a few minutes.”

“I think that’s a good idea,” said Henry, going back to his book.


After class, once we were away from the Lyceum and near the birch grove, Henry glanced around to make sure that no one was within earshot; we all leaned close to hear what he was going to say but at just that moment, as we were standing in a huddle and our breath was coming out in clouds, I heard someone call my name and there, at a great distance, was Dr. Roland, tottering through the snow like a lurching corpse.

I disengaged myself and went to meet him. He was breathing hard and, with a good deal of coughing and hawing, he began to tell me about something he wanted me to have a look at in his office.

There was nothing I could do but go with him, adjusting my pace to his leaden shuffle. Once inside, he paused several times on the stair to remark upon scraps of debris that the janitor had missed, feebly kicking at them with his foot. He kept me for half an hour. When I finally escaped, with my ears ringing and an armful of loose papers struggling to fly away in the wind, the birch grove was empty.

I don’t know what I’d expected, but the world certainly hadn’t been kicked out of its orbit overnight. People were hurrying to and fro, on their way to class, everything business as usual. The sky was gray and an icy wind was blowing off Mount Cataract.

I bought a milk shake at the snack bar and then went home. I was walking down the hall to my suite when I ran headlong into Judy Poovey.

She glared at me. She looked like she had an evil hangover and there were black circles under her eyes.

“Oh, hello,” I said, edging past. “Sorry.” “Hey,” she said.

I turned around.

“So you went home with Mona Beale last night?” For a second I didn’t know what she meant. “What?” “How was it?” she said bitchily. “Was she good?” Taken aback, I shrugged and started down the hall.

To my annoyance she followed and caught me by the arm. “She’s got a boyfriend, do you know that? You better hope nobody tells him.”

“I don’t care.”

“Last term he beat up Bram Guernsey because he thought Bram was hitting on her.”

She was the one who was hitting on me.

She gave me a catty, sideways look. “Well, I mean, she’s kind of a slut.”


Just before I woke up, I had a terrible dream.

I was in a large, old-fashioned bathroom, like something from a Zsa Zsa Gabor movie, with gold fixtures and mirrors and pink tile on the walls and floor. A bowl of goldfish stood on a spindly pedestal in the corner. I went over to look at them, my footsteps echoing on the tile, and then I became aware of a measured plink plink plink, coming from the faucet of the tub.

The tub was pink, too, and it was full of water, and Bunny, fully clad, was lying motionless at the bottom of it. His eyes were open and his glasses were askew and his pupils were different sizes—one large and black, the other scarcely a pinpoint. The water was clear, and very still. The tip of his necktie undulated near the surface.

Plink, plink, plink. I couldn’t move. Then, suddenly, I heard footsteps approaching, and voices. With a rush of terror I realized I had to hide the body somehow, where I didn’t know; I plunged my hands into the icy water and grasped him beneath the arms and tried to pull him out, but it was no good, no good; his head lolled back uselessly and his open mouth was filling with water.…

Struggling against his weight, reeling backward, I knocked the fishbowl from its pedestal and it crashed to the floor. Goldfish flopping all around my feet, amidst the shards of broken glass. Someone banged on the door. In my terror I let go of the body and it fell back into the tub with a hideous slap and a spray of water and I woke up.

It was almost dark. There was a horrible, erratic thumping in my chest, as if a large bird were trapped inside my ribcage and beating itself to death. Gasping, I lay back on my bed.

When the worst of it was over I sat up. I was trembling all over and drenched in sweat. Long shadows, nightmare light. I could see some kids playing outside in the snow, silhouetted in black against the dreadful, salmon-colored sky. Their shouts and laughter had, at that distance, an insane quality. I dug the heels of my hands hard into my eyes. Milky spots, pinpoints of light. Oh, God, I thought.


Bare cheek on cold tile. The roar and rush of the toilet was so loud I thought it would swallow me. It was like all the times I’d ever been sick, all the drunken throw-ups I’d ever had in the bathrooms of gas

stations and bars. Same old bird’s-eye view: those odd little knobs at the base of the toilet that you never notice at any other time; sweating porcelain, the hum of pipes, that long burble of water as it spirals down.

While I was washing my face, I began to cry. The tears mingled easily with the cold water, in the luminous, dripping crimson of my cupped fingers, and at first I wasn’t aware that I was crying at all. The sobs were regular and emotionless, as mechanical as the dry heaves which had stopped only a moment earlier; there was no reason for them, they had nothing to do with me. I brought my head up and looked at my weeping reflection in the mirror with a kind of detached interest. What does this mean? I thought. I looked terrible. Nobody else was falling apart; yet here I was, shaking all over and seeing bats like Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend.

A cold draft was blowing in the window. I felt shaky but oddly refreshed. I ran myself a hot bath, throwing in a good handful of Judy’s bath salts, and when I got out and put on my clothes I felt quite myself again.

Nihil sub sole novum, I thought as I walked back down the hall to my room. Any action, in the fullness of time, sinks to nothingness.


They were all there when I arrived at the twins’ for dinner that night, gathered around the radio and listening to the weather forecast as if to some wartime bulletin from the front. “For the long-range outlook,” said an announcer’s spry voice, “expect cool weather on Thursday, with cloudy skies and a possibility of showers, leading into warmer weather for the—”

Henry snapped off the radio. “If we’re lucky,” he said, “the snow will be gone tomorrow night. Where were you this afternoon, Richard?”

“At home.”

“I’m glad you’re here. I want you to do a little favor for me, if you don’t mind.”

“What is it?”

“I want to drive you downtown after dinner so you can see those movies at the Orpheum and tell us what they’re about. Do you mind?”


“I know this is an imposition on a school night, but I really don’t think it’s wise for any of the rest of us to go back again. Charles has offered to copy out your Greek for you if you like.”

“If I do it on that yellow paper you use,” said Charles, “with your fountain pen, he’ll never know the difference.”

“Thanks,” I said. Charles had a rather startling talent for forgery which, according to Camilla, dated from early childhood—expert report-card signatures by the fourth grade, entire excuse notes by the sixth. I was always getting him to sign Dr. Roland’s name to my time sheets.

“Really,” said Henry, “I hate to ask you to do this. I think they’re dreadful movies.”

They were pretty bad. The first was a road movie from the early seventies, about a man who leaves his wife to drive cross-country. On the way he gets sidetracked into Canada and becomes involved with a bunch of draft dodgers; at the end he goes back to his wife and they renew their vows in a hippie ceremony. The worst thing was the soundtrack. All these acoustic guitar songs with the word “freedom” in them.

The second film was more recent. It was about the Vietnam War and was called Fields of Shame—a big-budget movie with a lot of stars. The special effects were a bit realistic for my taste, though. People getting their legs blown off and so forth.

When I got out, Henry’s car was parked down the street with the lights off. Upstairs at Charles and Camilla’s, everyone was sitting around the kitchen table with their sleeves rolled up, deep in Greek. When we came in they began to stir, and Charles got up and made a pot of coffee while I read my notes. Both movies were rather plotless and I had a hard time communicating the gist of them.

“But these are terrible,” said Francis. “I’m embarrassed that people will think we went to see such bad movies.”

“But wait,” said Camilla.

“I don’t get it, either,” Charles said. “Why did the sergeant bomb the village where the good people lived?”

“Yes,” Camilla said. “Why? And who was that kid with the puppy who just wandered up in the middle of it? How did he know Charlie Sheen?”


Charles had done a beautiful job on my Greek, and I was looking it over before class the next day when Julian came in. He paused in the doorway, looked at the empty chair and laughed. “Goodness,” he said. “Not again.

“Looks like it,” said Francis.

“I must say, I hope our classes haven’t become as tedious as all that. Please tell Edmund that, should he choose to attend tomorrow, I shall make an effort to be especially engaging.”


By noon it was apparent that the weather forecast was in error. The temperature had dropped ten degrees, and more snow fell in the afternoon.

The five of us were to go out to dinner that night, and when the twins and I showed up at Henry’s apartment, we found him looking especially glum. “Guess who just phoned me,” he said.



Charles sat down. “What did she want?” “She wanted to know if I’d seen Bunny.” “What’d you say?”

“Well, of course I said I hadn’t,” Henry said irritably. “They were supposed to meet on Sunday night and she hasn’t seen him since Saturday.”

“Is she worried?” “Not particularly.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“Nothing.” He sighed. “I just hope the weather breaks tomorrow.”


But it didn’t. Wednesday dawned bright and cold and two more inches of snow had accumulated in the night.

“Of course,” said Julian, “I don’t mind if Edmund misses a class now and then. But three in a row. And you know what a hard time he has catching up.”


“We can’t go on like this much longer,” said Henry at the twins’ apartment that night, as we were smoking cigarettes over uneaten plates of bacon and eggs.

“What can we do?”

“I don’t know. Except he’s been missing now for seventy-two hours, and it’ll start to look funny if we don’t act worried pretty soon.”

“No one else is worried,” said Charles.

“No one else sees as much of him as we do. I wonder if Marion’s home,” he said, glancing at the clock.


“Because maybe I should give her a call.”

“For God’s sake,” said Francis. “Don’t drag her into it.”

“I have no intention of dragging her into anything. I just want to make it plain to her that none of us have seen Bunny for three days.”

“And what do you expect her to do about it?” “I hope she’ll call the police.”

“Have you lost your mind?”

“Well, if she doesn’t, we’re going to have to,” said Henry impatiently. “The longer he’s gone, the worse it will look. I don’t want a big ruckus, people asking questions.”

“Then why call the police?”

“Because if we go to them soon enough, I doubt there’ll be any ruckus at all. Perhaps they’ll send one or two people out here to poke around, thinking it’s probably a false alarm—”

“If no one’s found him yet,” I said, “I don’t see what makes you think that a couple of traffic cops from Hampden will do any better.”

“No one’s found him because no one’s looking. He’s not half a mile away.”

It took whoever answered a long time to bring Marion to the telephone. Henry stood patiently, gazing down at the floor; gradually his eyes began to wander, and after about five minutes he made an exasperated noise and looked up. “My goodness,” he said. “What’s taking them so long? Let me have a cigarette, would you, Francis?”

He had it in his mouth and Francis was lighting it for him when Marion came on the line. “Oh, hello, Marion,” he said, exhaling a cloud of smoke and turning his back to us. “I’m glad I caught you. Is Bunny there?”

A slight pause. “Well,” said Henry, reaching for the ashtray, “do you know where he is, then?”

“Well, frankly,” he said at last, “I was going to ask you the same thing. He hasn’t been in class for two or three days.”

Another long silence. Henry listened, his face pleasantly blank. Then, all of a sudden, his eyes widened. “What?” he said, a little too sharply.

All of us were jarred awake. Henry wasn’t looking at any of us but at the wall above our heads, his blue eyes round and glassy.

“I see,” he said finally. More talk on the other end.

“Well, if he happens to stop by, I’d appreciate it if you would ask him to call me. Let me give you my number.”

When he hung up he had a strange look on his face. We all stared at


“Henry?” said Camilla. “What is it?”

“She’s angry. Not worried a bit. Expecting him to walk in the door any moment. I don’t know,” he said, staring at the floor. “This is very peculiar, but she said that a friend of hers—a girl named Rika Thalheim—saw Bunny standing around outside the First Vermont Bank this afternoon.”

We were too stunned to say anything. Francis laughed, a short, incredulous laugh.

“My God,” said Charles. “That’s impossible.” “It certainly is,” Henry said dryly.

“Why would somebody just make that up?”

“I can’t imagine. People think they see all kinds of things, I suppose. Well, of course, she didn’t see him,” he added testily to Charles, who looked rather troubled. “But I don’t know what we should do now.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, we can’t very well call and report him missing when somebody saw him six hours ago.”

“So what are we going to do? Wait?”

“No,” said Henry, biting his lower lip. “I’ll have to think of something else.”


“Where on earth is Edmund?” said Julian on Thursday morning. “I don’t know how long he plans on being absent, but it is very thoughtless of him not to have got in touch with me.”

No one answered him. He looked up from his book, amused at our silence.

“What’s wrong?” he said teasingly. “All these shameful faces. Perhaps,” he said more coolly, “some of you are ashamed at how insufficiently you were prepared for yesterday’s lesson.”

I saw Charles and Camilla exchange a look. For some reason, this week of all weeks, Julian had loaded us down with work. We’d all managed, somehow or other, to bring in the written assignments; but no one had kept up with the reading, and in class the day before there had been several excruciating silences which not even Henry had been able to break.

Julian glanced down at his book. “Perhaps, before we begin,” he said, “one of you should go call Edmund on the telephone and ask him to join us if he’s at all able. I don’t mind if he hasn’t read his lesson, but this is an important class and he ought not to miss it.”

Henry stood up. But then Camilla said, quite unexpectedly, “I don’t think he’s at home.”

“Then where is he? Out of town?” “I’m not sure.”

Julian lowered his reading glasses and looked at her over the tops of them. “What do you mean?”

“We haven’t seen him for a couple of days.”

Julian’s eyes widened with childish, theatrical surprise; not for the first time, I thought how much he was like Henry, that same strange mixture of chill and warmth. “Indeed,” he said. “Most peculiar. And you have no idea where he might be?”

The mischievous, open-ended note in his voice made me nervous. I stared at the aqueous, rippling circles of light that the crystal vase cast over the tabletop.

“No,” said Henry. “We’re a bit puzzled.”

“I should think so.” His eyes met Henry’s, for a long, strange moment.

He knows, I thought, with a rush of panic. He knows we’re lying. He just doesn’t know what we’re lying about.


After lunch, after my French class, I sat on the top floor of the library with my books spread across the table in front of me. It was a strange, bright, dreamlike day. The snowy lawn—peppered with the toylike figures of distant people—was as smooth as sugar frosting on a birthday cake; a tiny dog ran, barking, after a ball; real smoke threaded from the dollhouse chimneys.

This time, I thought, a year ago. What had I been doing? Driving a friend’s car up to San Francisco, standing around in the poetry sections of bookstores worrying about my application to Hampden. And now here I was, sitting in a cold room in strange clothes and wondering if I might go to prison.

Nihil sub sole novum. A pencil sharpener complained loudly somewhere. I put my head down on my books—whispers, quiet footsteps, the smell of old paper in my nostrils. Several weeks earlier, Henry had become angry when the twins were voicing moral objections at the idea of killing Bunny. “Don’t be ridiculous,” he snapped.

“But how,” said Charles, who was close to tears, “how can you

possibly justify cold-blooded murder?”

Henry lit a cigarette. “I prefer to think of it,” he had said, “as

redistribution of matter.”


I woke, with a start, to find Henry and Francis standing over me. “What is it?” I said, rubbing my eyes and looking up at them. “Nothing,” said Henry. “Will you come with us to the car?”

Sleepily I followed them downstairs, where the car was parked in front of the bookstore.

“What’s the matter?” I said after we had got in. “Do you know where Camilla is?”

“Isn’t she at home?”

“No. Julian hasn’t seen her, either.” “What do you want with her?”

Henry sighed. It was cold inside the car, and his breath came out white. “Something’s up,” he said. “Francis and I saw Marion at the guard booth with Cloke Rayburn. They were talking to some people from Security.”


“About an hour ago.”

“You don’t think they’ve done anything, do you?”

“We shouldn’t jump to conclusions,” said Henry. He was looking out at the roof of the bookstore, which was sheeted in ice and glittered in the sun. “What we want is for Camilla to drop in on Cloke and see if she can find out what’s going on. I’d go myself, except I hardly know him.”

“And he hates me,” said Francis. “I know him a little.”

“Not well enough. He and Charles are on fairly good terms, but we can’t find him, either.”

I unwrapped a Rolaids tablet from a roll in my pocket and began to chew on it.

“What’s that you’re eating?” said Francis. “Rolaids.”

“I’ll have one of those, if you don’t mind,” Henry said. “I guess we should drive by the house again.”


This time Camilla came to the door, opening it only a crack and looking out warily. Henry started to say something, but she gave him a sharp warning glance. “Hello,” she said. “Come in.”

We followed her inside without a word, down the dark hall into the living room. There, with Charles, was Cloke Rayburn.

Charles stood up nervously; Cloke stayed where he was and looked at us with sleepy, inscrutable eyes. He had a sunburn and he needed a shave. Charles raised his eyebrows at us and mouthed the word “stoned.”

“Hello,” said Henry after a pause. “How are you?”

Cloke coughed—a deep, nasty-sounding rasp—and shook a Marlboro from a pack on the table before him. “Not bad,” he said. “You?”


He stuck the cigarette in the corner of his mouth, lit it, coughed again. “Hey,” he said to me. “How’s it going.”

“Pretty good.”

“You were at that party at Durbinstall on Sunday.” “Yes.”

“Seen Mona?” he said without any inflection whatever.

“No,” I said brusquely, and was suddenly aware that everyone was looking at me.

“Mona?” said Charles, after a puzzled silence.

“This girl,” Cloke said. “Sophomore. Lives in Bunny’s house.” “Speaking of whom,” said Henry.

Cloke leaned back in his chair and fixed Henry with a bloodshot, heavy-lidded gaze. “Yeah,” he said. “We were just talking about Bun. You haven’t seen him the last couple days, have you?”

“No. Have you?”

Cloke didn’t say anything for a moment. Then he shook his head. “No,” he said hoarsely, reaching for an ashtray. “I can’t figure out where the hell he is. Last time I saw him was Saturday night, not that I thought about it or anything until today.”

“I talked to Marion last night,” Henry said.

“I know,” said Cloke. “She’s kind of worried. I saw her in Commons this morning and she told me he hasn’t been in his room for like five days. She thought maybe he was at home or something, but she called his brother Patrick. Who says he ain’t in Connecticut. And she talked to Hugh, too, and he says he’s not in New York, either.”

“Did she speak to his parents?”

“Well, shit, she wasn’t trying to get him in trouble.”

Henry was silent for a moment. Then he said: “Where do you think he is?”

Cloke looked away, shrugged uneasily.

“You’ve known him longer than I have. He’s got a brother at Yale,

doesn’t he?”

“Yeah. Brady. Business school. But Patrick said he’d just talked to Brady, you know?”

“Patrick lives at home, right?”

“Yeah. He’s got some kind of business thing he’s working on, a sporting goods store or something, trying to get it off the ground.”

“And Hugh’s the lawyer.”

“Yes. He’s the oldest. He’s at Milbank Tweed in New York.” “What about the other brother—the married one?”

“Hugh’s the married one.”

“But isn’t there another one who’s married, too?” “Oh. Teddy. I know he’s not there.”


“The T-man lives with his in-laws. I don’t think they get along too well.”

There was a long silence.

“Can you think of anyplace he might be?” said Henry.

Cloke leaned forward, his long, dark hair falling in his face, and knocked the ash off his cigarette. He had a troubled, secretive expression, and after a few moments he looked up. “Have you noticed,” he said, “that Bunny’s had an awful lot of cash around the last two or three weeks?”

“What do you mean?” said Henry, a trifle sharply.

“You know Bunny. He’s broke all the time. Lately, though, he’s had all this money. Like, a lot. Maybe his grandmother sent it to him or something, but you can be damn sure he didn’t get it from his parents.”

There was another long silence. Henry bit his lip. “What are you trying to get at,” he said.

“You have noticed it, then.”

“Now that you mention it, I have.”

Cloke shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “This is off the record, now,” he said.

With a sinking feeling in my chest, I sat down. “What is it?” Henry said.

“I don’t know if I should even mention it.”

“If you think it important, by all means do,” Henry said curtly.

Cloke took a last draw on his cigarette and ground it out with a deliberate, corkscrewing movement. “You know,” he said, “that I deal a little coke now and then, don’t you? Not much,” he said hastily,

“just a few grams here and there. Just for me and my friends. But it’s easy work and I can make a little money at it, too.”

We all looked at each other. This was no news at all. Cloke was one of the biggest drug dealers on campus.

“So?” said Henry.

Cloke looked surprised. Then he shrugged. “So,” he said, “I know this Chinaman down on Mott Street in New York, kind of a scary guy, but he likes me and he’ll pretty much give me however much I can scrape up the cash for. Blow, mostly, sometimes a little pot as well but that’s kind of a headache. I’ve known him for years. We even did a little business when Bunny and I were at Saint Jerome’s.” He paused. “Well. You know how broke Bunny always is.”


“Well, he’s always been real interested in the whole thing. Quick money, you know. If he’d ever had the cash I might’ve cut him in on it

—on the financial end, I mean—but he never did and besides, Bunny has no business being mixed up in a deal like this.” He lit another cigarette. “Anyway,” he said. “That’s why I’m worried.”

Henry frowned. “I’m afraid I don’t follow.”

“This was a bad mistake I guess but I let him ride down with me a couple weeks ago.”

We had already heard about this excursion to New York. Bunny had bragged about it incessantly. “And?” said Henry.

“I don’t know. I’m just kind of worried, is all. He knows where the guy lives—right?—and he’s got all this money, so when I was talking to Marion, I just—”

“You don’t think he went down there by himself?” said Charles.

“I don’t know. I sure hope not. He never actually met the guy or anything.”

“Would Bunny do something like that?” said Camilla.

“Frankly,” said Henry, unhooking his glasses and giving them a quick swipe with his handkerchief, “it strikes me as just the type of stupid thing that Bunny would do.”

Nobody said anything for a moment. Henry glanced up. His eyes without the glasses were blind, unwavering, strange. “Does Marion know about this?” he said.

“No,” said Cloke. “And I’d just as soon you didn’t tell her, okay?” “Do you have any other reason for thinking this?”

“No. Except where else could he be? And Marion told you about Rika Thalheim seeing him at the bank on Wednesday?”


“That’s kind of weird but not really, not if you think about it. Say he went down to New York with a couple hundred dollars, right? And talking like he had a lot more where that came from. These guys’ll chop you up and put you in a garbage bag for twenty bucks. I mean, I don’t know. Maybe they told him to go back home and close out his account and come back with all he had.”

“Bunny doesn’t even have a bank account.” “That you know of,” Cloke pointed out. “You’re perfectly right,” said Henry.

“Can’t you just call down there?” Charles said.

“Who’m I gonna call? The guy’s unlisted and he doesn’t hand out business cards, all right?”

“Then how do you get in touch with him?” “I have to call a third guy.”

“Then call him,” said Henry calmly, putting the handkerchief back in his pocket and hooking the glasses back over his ears.

“They’re not going to tell me anything.”

“I thought they were such good chums of yours.”

“What do you think?” said Cloke. “You think these people are running some kind of a scout troop down there? Are you kidding? These are real guys. Doing real shit.

For one horrible instant I thought that Francis was going to laugh aloud but somehow he managed to turn it into a theatrical battery of coughs, hiding his face behind his hand. With barely a glance Henry slapped him, hard, on the back.

“Then what do you suggest we do?” Camilla said.

“I don’t know. I’d like to get into his room, see if he took a suitcase or anything.”

“Isn’t it locked?” Henry said.

“Yes. Marion tried to get Security to open it for her and they wouldn’t do it.”

Henry bit his lower lip. “Well,” he said slowly, “it wouldn’t be so very hard to get in in spite of that, would it?”

Cloke put out his cigarette and looked at Henry with new interest. “No,” he said. “It wouldn’t.”

“There’s the ground floor window. The storm windows have been taken off.”

“I know I could handle the screens.” The two of them stared at each other.

“Maybe,” Cloke said, “I should go down and try it now.” “We’ll go with you.”

“Man,” said Cloke, “we can’t all go.”

I saw Henry cut his eyes at Charles; Charles, behind Cloke’s back, acknowledged the glance. “I’ll go,” he said suddenly, in a voice that was too loud, and tossed off the rest of his drink.

“Cloke, how on earth did you get mixed up in something like this?” Camilla said.

He laughed condescendingly. “It’s nothing,” he said. “You have to meet these guys on their own ground. I don’t let them give me shit or anything.”

Inconspicuously, Henry slipped behind Cloke’s chair to where Charles stood, and leaned over and whispered something in his ear. I saw Charles nod tersely.

“Not that they don’t try to fuck with you,” said Cloke. “But I know how they think. Now Bunny, he doesn’t have a clue, he thinks it’s some kind of a game with hundred-dollar bills just lying on the ground, waiting for some stupid kid to come along and pick them up.


By the time he stopped talking, Charles and Henry had completed whatever business they’d been discussing and Charles had gone to the closet for his overcoat. Cloke reached for his sunglasses and stood up. He had a faint, dry smell of herbs, an echo of the pothead smell that always lingered in the dusty corridors of Durbinstall: patchouli oil, clove cigarettes, incense.

Charles wound the scarf around his neck. His expression was at once casual and turbulent; his eyes were distant and his mouth was steady, but his nostrils flared slightly with his breathing.

“Be careful,” Camilla said.

She was talking to Charles, but Cloke turned and smiled. “Piece of cake,” he said.


She walked with them to the door. As soon as she shut it behind them she turned around.

Henry put a finger to his lips.

We listened to their footsteps going down the stairs, and were quiet until we heard Cloke’s car start. Henry went to the window and pulled aside a shabby lace curtain. “They’re gone,” he said.

“Henry, are you sure this is a good idea?” said Camilla.

He shrugged, still looking at the street below. “I don’t know,” he

said. “I had to play that one by ear.”

“I wish you’d gone. Why didn’t you go with him?” “I would have, but this is better.”

“What did you say to him?”

“Well, it should be pretty obvious even to Cloke that Bunny isn’t out of town. Everything he owns is in that room. Money, extra glasses, winter coat. Odds are that Cloke will want to leave, and not say anything, but I told Charles to insist that they at least call Marion over for a look. If she sees—well. She doesn’t know a thing about Cloke’s problems and wouldn’t care if she did. Unless I’m mistaken she’ll call the police, or Bunny’s parents at the very least, and I doubt Cloke will be able to stop her.”

“They won’t find him today,” said Francis. “It’ll be dark in a couple of hours.”

“Yes, but if we’re lucky they’ll start looking first thing tomorrow.” “Do you think anyone will want to talk to us about it?”

“I don’t know,” said Henry abstractedly. “I don’t know how they go about such things.”

A thin ray of sun struck the prisms of a candelabrum on the mantelpiece, throwing brilliant, trembling shards of light that were distorted by the slant of the dormer walls. All of a sudden, images from every crime movie I’d ever seen began to pop into my mind—the windowless room, the harsh lights and narrow hallways, images which did not seem so much theatrical or foreign as imbued with the indelible quality of memory, of experience lived. Don’t think, don’t think, I told myself, looking fixedly at a bright, cold pool of sunlight soaking into the rug near my feet.

Camilla tried to light a cigarette, but one match and then another went out. Henry took the box from her and struck one himself; it flared up high and strong and she leaned close to it, one hand cupped around the flame and the other resting upon his wrist.


The minutes crept by with a tortuous slowness. Camilla brought a bottle of whiskey into the kitchen and we sat around the table playing euchre, Francis and Henry against Camilla and me. Camilla played well—this was her game, her favorite—but I wasn’t a good partner and we lost trick after trick to the others.

The apartment was very still: clink of glasses, ruffle of cards. Henry’s sleeves were rolled above his elbows and the sun glinted metallic off Francis’s pince-nez. I did my best to concentrate on the

game but again and again I found myself staring, through the open door, at the clock on the mantel in the next room. It was one of those bizarre pieces of Victorian bric-a-brac that the twins were so fond of— a white china elephant with the clock balanced in a howdah, and a little black mahout in gilt turban and breeches to strike the hours. There was something diabolical about the mahout, and every time I looked up I found him grinning at me in an attitude of cheerful malice.

I lost count of the score, lost count of the games. The room grew dim.

Henry lay down his cards. “March,” he said. “I’m sick of this,” said Francis. “Where is he?”

The clock ticked loudly, a jangling, arrhythmic tick. We sat in the fading light, the cards forgotten. Camilla took an apple from a bowl on the counter and sat in the windowsill, eating it morosely and looking down at the street below. A fiery outline of twilight shone around her silhouette, burned red-gold in her hair, grew diffuse in the fuzzy texture of the woolen skirt pulled carelessly about her knees.

“Maybe something went wrong,” Francis said. “Don’t be ridiculous. What could go wrong?”

“A million things. Maybe Charles lost his head or something.”

Henry gave him a fishy look. “Calm down,” he said. “I don’t know where you get all these Dostoyevsky sorts of ideas.”

Francis was about to reply when Camilla jumped up. “He’s coming,” she said.

Henry stood up. “Where? Is he alone?” “Yes,” said Camilla, running to the door.

She ran down to meet him on the landing and in a few moments the two of them were back.

Charles’s eyes were wild and his hair was disordered. He took off his coat, threw it on a chair, flung himself on the couch. “Somebody make me a drink,” he said.

“Is everything all right?” “Yes.”

“What happened?” “Where’s that drink?”

Impatiently, Henry splashed some whiskey in a dirty glass and shoved it at him. “Did it go well? Did the police come?”

Charles took a long swallow, winced and nodded. “Where’s Cloke? At home?”

“I guess.”

“Tell us everything from the first.”

Charles finished the glass and set it down. His face was a damp, feverish red. “You were right about that room,” he said.

“What do you mean?”

“It was eerie. Terrible. Bed unmade, dust everywhere, half an old Twinkie lying on his desk and ants crawling all over it. Cloke got scared and wanted to leave, but I called Marion before he could. She was there in a few minutes. Looked around, seemed kind of stunned, didn’t say much. Cloke was very agitated.”

“Did he tell her about the drug business?”

“No. He hinted at it, more than once, but she wasn’t paying much attention to him.” He looked up. “You know, Henry,” he said abruptly, “I think we made a bad mistake by not going down there first. We should’ve gone through that room ourselves before either of them even saw it.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Look what I found.” He pulled a piece of paper from his pocket.

Henry took it from him quickly and looked it over. “How did you get this?”

He shrugged. “Luck. It was on top of his desk. I slipped it off the first chance I had.”

I looked over Henry’s shoulder. It was a Xerox of a page of the Hampden Examiner. Wedged between a column by the Home Extension Service and a chopped-off ad for garden hoes, there was a small but conspicuous headline.


Battenkill County Sheriff Department, along with Hampden police, are still investigating the brutal November 12 homicide of Harry Ray McRee. The mutilated corpse of Mr. McRee, a poultry farmer and former member of the Egg Producers Association of Vermont, was found upon his Mechanicsville farm. Robbery did not appear to be a motive, and though Mr. McRee was known to have several enemies, both in the chicken-and-egg business and in Battenkill county at large, none of these are suspects in the slaying.

Horrified, I leaned closer—the word mutilated had electrified me, it was the only thing I could see on the page—but Henry had turned the paper over and begun to study the other side. “Well,” he said, “at least

this isn’t a photocopy of a clipping. Odds are he did this at the library, from the school’s copy.”

“I hope you’re right but that doesn’t mean it’s the only copy.”

Henry put the paper in the ashtray and struck the match. When he touched it to the edge a bright red seam crawled up the side, then licked suddenly over the whole thing; the words were illumined for a moment before they curled and darkened. “Well,” he said, “it’s too late now. At least you got this one. What happened next?”

“Well, Marion left. She went next door to Putnam House and came back with a friend.”


“I don’t know her. Uta or Ursula or something. One of those Swedish-looking girls who wears fishermen’s sweaters all the time. Anyway, she had a look around, too, and Cloke was just sitting there on the bed smoking a cigarette and looking like his stomach hurt him, and finally she—this Uta or whatever—suggested we go upstairs and tell Bunny’s house chairperson.”

Francis started laughing. At Hampden, the house chairpeople were who you complained to if your storm windows didn’t work or someone was playing their stereo too loud.

“Well, it’s a good thing she did or we might still be standing there,” said Charles. “It was that loud, red-haired girl who wears hiking boots all the time—what’s her name? Briony Dillard?”

“Yes,” I said. Besides being a house chairperson and a vigorous member of the student council, she was also the president of a leftist group off campus, and was always trying to mobilize the youth of Hampden in the face of crushing indifference.

“Well, she barged right in and got the show on the road,” said Charles. “Took our names. Asked a bunch of questions. Herded Bunny’s neighbors into the hall and asked them questions. Called Student Services, then Security. Security said they would send somebody over—” he lit a cigarette—“but it really wasn’t their jurisdiction, a student disappearance, and that she should call the police. Will you get me another drink?” he said, turning abruptly to Camilla.

“And they came?”

Charles, cigarette balanced between his first and middle fingers, wiped the sweat from his forehead with the heel of his hand. “Yes,” he said. “Two of them. And a couple of security guards as well.”

“What did they do?”

“The security guards didn’t do anything. But the policemen were actually kind of efficient. One of them looked around the room while the other herded everybody in the hall and started asking questions.”

“What kind of questions?”

“Who’d seen him last and where, how long he’d been gone, where he might be. It all sounds pretty obvious but that was the first time anyone had even asked.”

“Did Cloke say anything?”

“Not much. It was very confused, a lot of people around, most of them dying to tell what they knew, which was nothing. No one paid any attention to me at all. This lady who’d come down from Student Services kept trying to butt in, acting very officious and saying it wasn’t a police matter, that the school would handle it. Finally one of the policemen got mad. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘what’s the matter with you people? This boy’s been missing for a solid week and nobody’s even mentioned it till now. This is serious business and if you want my two cents, I think the school may be at fault.’ Well, that really got the lady from Student Services going and then, all of a sudden, the policeman in the room came out with Bunny’s wallet.

“Everything got very quiet. There was two hundred dollars in it, and all of Bunny’s ID. The policeman who’d found it said, ‘I think we’d better contact this boy’s family.’ Everyone started whispering. The lady from Student Services got very white and said she’d go up to her office and get Bunny’s file immediately. The policeman went with her.

“By this time the hall was absolutely mobbed. They’d trickled in from outdoors and were hanging around to see what was going on. The first policeman told them to go home and mind their own business, and Cloke slid away in the confusion. Before he left, he pulled me aside and told me again not to mention that drug business.”

“I hope you waited until you were told you could leave.”

“I did. It wasn’t much longer. The policeman wanted to talk to Marion, and he told me and this Uta we could go home once he’d taken our names and stuff. That was about an hour ago.”

“Then why are you just getting back?”

“I’m coming to that. I didn’t want to run into anybody on the way home, so I cut across the back of campus, down behind the faculty offices. That was a big mistake. I hadn’t even got to the birch grove when that troublemaker from Student Services—the lady who started the fight—saw me from out the window of the Dean’s office and

called for me to come in.”

“What was she doing in the Dean’s office?”

“Using the WATS line. They had Bunny’s father on the telephone— he was yelling at everybody, threatening to sue. The Dean of Studies was trying to calm him down, but Mr. Corcoran kept asking to talk to someone he knew. They’d tried to get you on another line, Henry, but you weren’t home.”

“Had he asked to talk to me?”

“Apparently. They were about to send someone up to the Lyceum for Julian, but then this lady saw me out the window. There were about a million people there—the policeman, the Dean’s secretary, four or five people from down the hall, that nutty lady who works in Records. Next door, in the admissions office, somebody was trying to get hold of the President. There were some teachers hanging around, too. I guess the Dean of Studies was in the middle of a conference when the lady from Student Services came bursting in with the policeman. Your friend was there, Richard. Doctor Roland.

“Anyway. The crowd parted when I came in and the Dean of Studies handed me the telephone. Mr. Corcoran calmed down when he realized who I was. Got all confidential and asked me if this wasn’t some type of frat stunt.”

“Oh, God,” said Francis.

Charles looked at him out of the corner of his eye. “He asked about you. ‘Where’s the old Carrot-Top,’ he said.”

“What else did he say?”

“He was very nice. Asked about you all, really. Said to tell everybody that he said hi.”

There was a long, uncomfortable pause.

Henry bit his lower lip and went to the liquor cabinet to pour himself a drink. “Did anything,” he said, “come up about that bank business?”

“Yes. Marion gave them the girl’s name. By the way—” when he looked up, his eyes were distracted, blank—“I forgot to tell you earlier, but Marion gave your name to the police. Yours too, Francis.”

“Why?” said Francis, alarmed. “What for?” “Who were his friends? They wanted to know.” “But why me?

“Calm down, Francis.”

The light in the room was gone. The skies were lilac-colored and the snowy streets had a surreal, lunar glow. Henry turned on the

lamp. “Do you think they’ll start looking tonight?”

“They’ll look for him, certainly. Whether they’ll look in the right place is something else.”

No one said anything for a moment. Charles, thoughtfully, rattled the ice in his glass. “You know,” he said, “we’ve done a terrible thing.”

“We had to, Charles, as we have all discussed.”

“I know, but I can’t stop thinking about Mr. Corcoran. The holidays we’ve spent at his house. And he was so sweet on the telephone.”

“We’re all a lot better off.” “Some of us are, you mean.”

Henry smiled acidly. “Oh, I don’t know,” he said. “



This was something to the effect that, in the Underworld, a great ox costs only a penny, but I knew what he meant and in spite of myself I laughed. There was a tradition among the ancients that things were very cheap in Hell.


When Henry left, he offered to drive me back to school. It was late, and when we pulled up behind the dormitory I asked him if he wanted to come to Commons and have some dinner.

We stopped in the post office so Henry could check his mail. He went to his mailbox only about every three weeks so there was quite a stack waiting for him; he stood by the trash can, going through it indifferently, throwing half the envelopes away unopened. Then he stopped.

“What is it?”

He laughed. “Look in your mailbox. It’s a faculty questionnaire.

Julian’s up for review.”

They were closing the dining hall by the time we arrived, and the janitors had already started to mop the floor. The kitchen was closed, too, so I went to ask for some peanut butter and bread while Henry made himself a cup of tea. The main dining room was deserted. We sat at a table in the corner, our reflections mirrored in the black of the plate-glass windows. Henry took out a pen and began to fill out Julian’s evaluation.

I looked at my own copy while I ate my sandwich. The questions were ranked from one—poor to five—excellent: Is this faculty member prompt? Well-prepared? Ready to offer help outside the classroom? Henry, without the slightest pause, had gone down the list and circled all

fives. Now I saw him writing the number 19 in a blank. “What’s that for?”

“The number of classes I’ve taken with Julian,” he said, without looking up.

“You’ve taken nineteen classes with Julian?”

“Well, that’s tutorials and everything,” he said, irritated.

For a moment there was no sound except the scratching of Henry’s pen and the distant crash of dish racks in the kitchen.

“Does everybody get these, or just us?” I said. “Just us.”

“I wonder why they even bother.”

“For their records, I suppose.” He had turned to the last page, which was mostly blank. Please elaborate here on any additional compliments or criticisms you may have of this teacher. Extra sheets of paper may be attached if necessary.

His pen hovered over the paper. Then he folded the sheet and pushed it aside.

“What,” I said, “aren’t you going to write anything?”

Henry took a sip of his tea. “How,” he said, “can I possibly make the Dean of Studies understand that there is a divinity in our midst?”


After dinner, I went back to my room. I dreaded the thought of the night ahead, but not for the reasons one might expect—that I was worried about the police, or that my conscience bothered me, or anything of the sort. Quite the contrary. By that time, by some purely subconscious means, I had developed a successful mental block about the murder and everything pertaining to it. I talked about it in select company but seldom thought of it when alone.

What I did experience when alone was a sort of general neurotic horror, a common attack of nerves and self-loathing magnified to the power of ten. Every cruel or fatuous thing I’d ever said came back to me with an amplified clarity, no matter how I talked to myself or jerked my head to shake the thoughts away: old insults and guilts and embarrassments stretching clear back to childhood—the crippled boy I’d made fun of, the Easter chick I’d squeezed to death—paraded before me one by one, in vivid and mordant splendor.

I tried to work on Greek but it wasn’t much good. I would look up a word in the lexicon only to forget it when I turned to write it down; my noun cases, my verb forms, had left me utterly. Around midnight I went downstairs and called the twins. Camilla answered the phone.

She was sleepy, a little drunk and getting ready for bed. “Tell me a funny story,” I said.

“I can’t think of any funny stories.” “Any story.”

“Cinderella? The Three Bears?”

“Tell me something that happened to you when you were little.”

So she told me about the only time she remembered seeing her father, before he and her mother were killed. It was snowing, she said, and Charles was asleep, and she was standing in her crib looking out the window. Her father was out in the yard in an old gray sweater, throwing snowballs against the side of the fence. “It must have been about the middle of the afternoon. I don’t know what he was doing there. All I know is that I saw him, and I wanted to go out so bad, and I was trying to climb out of my crib and go to him. Then my grandmother came in and put the bars up so I couldn’t get out, and I started to cry. My uncle Hilary—he was my grandmother’s brother, he lived with us when we were little—came in the room and saw me crying. ‘Poor little girl,’ he said. He rummaged around in his pockets, and finally he found a tape measure and gave it to me to play with.”

“A tape measure?”

“Yes. You know, the ones that snap in when you push a button. Charles and I used to fight over it all the time. It’s still at home somewhere.”


Late the next morning I woke with an unpleasant start to a knock at my door.

I opened it to find Camilla, who looked as if she’d dressed in a hurry. She came in and locked the door behind her while I stood blinking sleepily in my bathrobe. “Have you been outside today?” she said.

A spider of anxiety crawled up the back of my neck. I sat down on the side of my bed. “No,” I said. “Why?”

“I don’t know what’s going on. The police are talking to Charles and Henry, and I don’t even know where Francis is.”


“A policeman came by and asked for Charles around seven this morning. He didn’t say what he wanted. Charles got dressed and they went off together and then, at eight, I got a call from Henry. He asked if I’d mind if he was a little late this morning? And I asked what he was talking about, because we hadn’t planned to meet. ‘Oh, thanks,’

he said, ‘I knew you’d understand, the police are here about Bunny, you see, and they want to ask some questions.’ ”

“I’m sure it’ll be all right.”

She ran a hand through her hair, in an exasperated gesture reminiscent of her brother. “But it’s not just that,” she said. “There are people all over the place. Reporters. Police. It’s like a madhouse.”

“Are they looking for him?”

“I don’t know what they’re doing. They seem to be headed up towards Mount Cataract.”

“Maybe we should leave campus for a while.”

Her pale, silvery glance skittered anxiously around my room. “Maybe,” she said. “Get dressed and we’ll decide what to do.”


I was in the bathroom scraping a quick razor over my face when Judy Poovey came in and rushed over so fast I cut my cheek. “Richard,” she said, her hand on my arm. “Have you heard?”

I touched my face and looked at the blood on my fingertips, then glanced at her, annoyed. “Heard what?”

“About Bunny,” she said, her voice hushed and her eyes wide. I stared at her, not knowing what she was going to say.

“Jack Teitelbaum told me. Cloke was talking to him about it last night. I never heard of anybody just, like, vanishing. It’s too weird. And Jack was saying, well, if they haven’t found him by now.… I mean, I’m sure he’s all right and everything,” she said when she saw the way I was looking at her.

I couldn’t think of anything to say.

“If you want to stop by or anything, I’ll be at home.” “Sure.”

“I mean, if you want to talk or something. I’m always there. Just stop by.”

“Thanks,” I said, a little too abruptly.

She looked up at me, her eyes large with compassion, with understanding of the solitude and incivility of grief. “It’ll be okay,” she said, giving my arm a squeeze, and then she left, pausing in the door for a sorrowful backwards glance.


Despite what Camilla had said, I was unprepared for the riot of activity outside. The parking lot was full and people from Hampden town were everywhere—factory workers mostly, from the looks of them, some with lunch boxes, others with children-beating the ground

with sticks and making their way towards Mount Cataract in broad, straggling lines as students milled about and looked at them curiously. There were policemen, deputies, a state trooper or two; on the lawn, parked beside a couple of official-looking vehicles, was a remote radio-station hookup, a concessions truck, and a van from ActionNews Twelve.

“What are all these people doing here?” I said. “Look,” she said. “Is that Francis?”

Far away, in the busy multitude, I saw a flash of red hair, the conspicuous line of muffled throat and black greatcoat. Camilla stuck up her hand and yelled to him.

He shouldered his way through a bunch of cafeteria workers who had come outside to see what was going on. He was smoking a cigarette; there was a newspaper tucked under his arm. “Hello,” he said. “Can you believe this?”

“What’s going on?” “A treasure hunt.” “What?”

“The Corcorans put up a big reward in the night. All the factories in Hampden are closed. Anybody want some coffee? I have a dollar.”

We picked our way to the concessions truck, through a sparse, gloomy gathering of janitors and maintenance men.

“Three coffees, two with milk, please,” said Francis to the fat woman behind the counter.

“No milk, just Cremora.”

“Well, then, just black, I guess.” He turned to us. “Have you seen the paper this morning?”

It was a late edition of the Hampden Examiner. In a column on the first page was a blurry, recent photograph of Bunny and under it this caption: POLICE, KIN, SEEK YOUTH, 24, MISSING IN HAMPDEN.

“Twenty-four?” I said, startled. The twins and I were twenty years old, and Henry and Francis were twenty-one.

“He failed a grade or two in elementary school,” said Camilla. “Ahh.”

Sunday afternoon Edmund Corcoran, a Hampden College student known to his family and friends as “Bunny,” attended a campus party which he apparently left some time in the middle of the afternoon in order to meet his girlfriend Marion Barnbridge of Rye, New York, also a student at Hampden. That was the last that anyone has seen of Bunny Corcoran.

The concerned Barnbridge, along with friends of Corcoran’s, yesterday alerted state and local police, who put out a Missing Persons Bulletin. Today the search begins in the Hampden area. The missing youth is described as

(See p. 5)

“Are you finished?” I asked Camilla. “Yes. Turn the page.”

being six-feet, three inches tall, weighing 190 pounds, with sandy blond hair and blue eyes. He wears glasses, and when last seen was wearing a gray tweed sports coat, khaki pants, and a yellow rain slicker.

“Here’s your coffee, Richard,” said Francis, turning gingerly with a cup in either hand.

At St. Jerome’s preparatory school in College Falls, Massachusetts, Corcoran was active in varsity sports, lettering in hockey, lacrosse and crew and leading his football team, the Wolverines, to a state championship when he captained during senior year. At Hampden Corcoran served as a volunteer fire marshall. He studied literature and languages, with a concentration in Classics, and was described by fellow students as “a scholar.”

“Ha,” said Camilla.

Cloke Rayburn, a school friend of Corcoran’s and one of those who first notified police, said that Corcoran “is a real straight guy—definitely not mixed up in drugs or anything like that.”

Yesterday afternoon, after growing suspicious, he broke into Corcoran’s dormitory room, and subsequently notified police.

“That’s not right,” Camilla said. “He didn’t call them.” “There’s not a word about Charles.”

Thank God,” she said, in Greek.

Corcoran’s parents, Macdonald and Katherine Corcoran of Shady Brook, Connecticut, arrive in Hampden today to assist in the search for the youngest of their five children. (See “A Family Prays,” p. 10.) In a telephone interview Mr. Corcoran, who is president of the Bingham Bank and Trust Company and a member of the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of Connecticut, said, “There’s not much we can do down here. We want to assist if we can.” He said that he had spoken to his son by telephone a week before the disappearance and

had noticed nothing unusual.

Of her son, Katherine Corcoran said: “Edmund is a very family-oriented type person. If anything was wrong I know he would have told Mack or myself.”

A reward of fifty thousand dollars is being offered for information leading to the whereabouts of Edmund Corcoran, provided through contributions from the Corcoran family, the Bingham Bank and Trust Company, and the Highland Heights Lodge of the Loyal Order of the Moose.

The wind was blowing. With Camilla’s help, I folded the newspaper and handed it back to Francis. “Fifty thousand dollars,” I said. “That’s a lot of money.”

“And you wonder why you see all these people from Hampden town up here this morning?” said Francis, taking a sip of his coffee. “Gosh, it’s cold out here.”

We turned and started back towards Commons. Camilla said to Francis: “You know about Charles and Henry, don’t you?”

“Well, they told Charles they might want to talk to him, didn’t they?”

“But Henry?”

“I wouldn’t waste my time worrying about him.”

Commons was overheated and surprisingly empty. The three of us sat on a clammy, black vinyl couch and drank our coffee. People drifted in and out, bringing blasts of cold air from outdoors; some of them came over to ask if there was any news. Jud “Party Pig” MacKenna, as Vice-president of the Student Council, came over with his empty paint can to ask if we would like to donate to an emergency search fund. Between us, we contributed a dollar in change.

We were talking to Georges Laforgue, who was telling us enthusiastically and at great length about a similar disappearance at Brandeis when suddenly, from nowhere, Henry appeared behind him.

Laforgue turned. “Oh,” he said coldly when he saw who it was.

Henry inclined his head slightly. “Bonjour, Monsieur Laforgue,” he said. “Quel plaisir de vous revoir.

Laforgue, with a flourish, took a handkerchief from his pocket and blew his nose for what seemed about five minutes; then, refolding the handkerchief into fussy little squares, he turned his back on Henry and resumed his story. It happened, in this case, that the student had simply gone off to New York City on the bus without telling anybody.

“And this boy—Birdie, is it?” “Bunny.”

“Yes. This boy has been away for far less long. He will appear again, of his own accord, and everyone will feel very foolish.” He lowered his voice. “I believe that the school is afraid of a lawsuit, and that perhaps is why they lost their sense of proportion, no? Please do not repeat me.”

“Of course not.”

“My position is delicate with the Dean, you understand.”


“I’m a bit tired,” Henry said later, in the car, “but there’s nothing to worry about.”

“What’d they want to know?”

“Nothing much. How long had I known him, was he acting strangely, did I know any reason why he might have decided to leave school. Of course, he has been acting strangely the last few months, and I said so. But I also said I hadn’t seen very much of him lately, which is true.” He shook his head. “Honestly. Two hours. I don’t know if I could’ve made myself go through with this if I’d known what nonsense we were letting ourselves in for.”


We stopped by the twins’ apartment and found Charles asleep on the couch, sprawled on his stomach in his shoes and overcoat, one arm dangling over the edge so that three or four inches of wrist and an equal amount of cuff were exposed.

He woke with a start. His face was puffy and the ridged pattern from the sofa cushions was printed deeply on his cheek.

“How did it go?” said Henry.

Charles sat up a bit and rubbed his eyes. “All right, I guess,” he said. “They wanted me to sign some thing that said what happened yesterday.”

“They visited me as well.” “Really? What’d they want?” “The same questions.” “Were they nice to you?” “Not particularly.”

“God, they were so nice to me down at the police station. They even gave me breakfast. Coffee and jelly doughnuts.”

This was a Friday, which meant no classes, and that Julian was not in Hampden but at home. His house was not far from where we were

—halfway to Albany, where we’d driven to have pancakes at a truck stop—and after lunch Henry suggested, quite out of the blue, that we

drive by and see if he was there.

I had never been in Julian’s house, had never even seen it, though I assumed the rest of them had been there a hundred times. Actually— Henry being of course the notable exception—Julian did not allow many visitors. This was not so surprising as it sounds; he kept a gentle but firm distance between himself and his students; and though he was much more fond of us than teachers generally are of their pupils, it was not, even with Henry, a relationship of equals, and our classes with him ran more along the lines of benevolent dictatorship than democracy. “I am your teacher,” he once said, “because I know more than you do.” Though on a psychological level his manner was almost painfully intimate, superficially it was businesslike and cold. He refused to see anything about any of us except our most engaging qualities, which he cultivated and magnified to the exclusion of all our tedious and less desirable ones. While I felt a delicious pleasure in adjusting myself to fit this attractive if inaccurate image—and, eventually, in finding that I had more or less become the character which for a long time I had so skillfully played—there was never any doubt that he did not wish to see us in our entirety, or see us, in fact, in anything other than the magnificent roles he had invented for us: genis gratus, corpore glabellus, arte multiscius, et fortuna opulentus— smooth-cheeked, soft-skinned, well-educated, and rich. It was his odd blindness, I think, to all problems of a personal nature which made him able at the end to transmute even Bunny’s highly substantive troubles into spiritual ones.

I knew then, and know now, virtually nothing about Julian’s life

outside of the classroom, which is perhaps what lent such a tantalizing breath of mystery to everything he said or did. No doubt his personal life was as flawed as anyone’s, but the only side of himself he ever allowed us to see was polished to such a high gloss of perfection that it seemed when he was away from us he must lead an existence too rarefied for me to even imagine.

So naturally, I was curious to see where he lived. It was a large stone house, set on a hill, miles off the main road and nothing but trees and snow as far as one could see—imposing enough, but not half so Gothic and monstrous as Francis’s. I had heard marvelous tales of his garden, also of the inside of the house—Attic vases, Meissen porcelain, paintings by Alma-Tadema and Frith. But the garden was covered with snow, and Julian, apparently, was not at home; at least he didn’t answer the door.

Henry looked back down the hill to where we waited in the car. He reached into his pocket for a piece of paper and scribbled a note that he folded and wedged in the crack of the door.


“Are there students out with the search parties?” Henry asked on the way back to Hampden. “I don’t want to go down there if we’ll be making ourselves conspicuous. But on the other hand, it does seem rather callous, don’t you think, to just go home?”

He was quiet a moment, thinking. “Maybe we should have a look,” he said. “Charles, you’ve done quite enough for one day. Maybe you should just go home.”


After we dropped the twins off, the three of us went on to campus. I had expected that by now the search party would have grown tired and gone home but I was surprised to find the enterprise busier than ever. There were policemen, college administrators, boy scouts, maintenance workers and security guards, about thirty Hampden students (some in an official, student-councily-looking group, the rest just along for the ride), and mobs of townspeople. It was a large assembly, but as the three of us looked down at it from the top of the rise, it seemed oddly muffled and small in the great expanse of snow.

We went down the hill—Francis, sulky because he hadn’t wanted to come, followed two or three paces behind—and wandered through the crowd. No one paid us the least bit of attention. Behind me I heard the indistinct, aborted garble of a walkie-talkie; and, startled, I walked backward into the Chief of Security.

“Watch it,” he shouted. He was a squat, bulldoggish man with liver spots on his nose and jowls.

“Sorry,” I said hastily. “Can you tell me what—”

“College kids,” he muttered, turning his head away as if to spit. “Stumbling around, getting in the way, don’t know what the hell you’re suppose to do.”

“Well, that’s what we’re trying to find out,” snapped Henry.

The guard turned quickly, and somehow his gaze landed not on Henry but on Francis, who was standing staring into space. “So it’s you, is it?” he said with venom. “Mr. Off-Campus who thinks he can park in the faculty parking lot.”

Francis started, a wild look in his eye.

“Yes, you. You know how many unpaid violations you’re carrying?

Nine. I turned your registration in to the Dean just last week. They can

put you on probation, hold your transcripts, what have you. Suspend your library privileges. If it was up to me they’d put you in jail.”

Francis gaped at him. Henry caught him by the sleeve and pulled him away.

A long, straggly line of townspeople was crunching through the snow, some of them swiping listlessly at the ground with sticks. We walked to the end of the queue, then fell into step with them.

The knowledge that Bunny’s body actually lay about two miles to the southwest did not lend much interest or urgency to the search, and I plodded along in a daze, my eyes on the ground. At the front of the rank an authoritative cluster of state troopers and policemen marched ahead, heads bent, talking in low voices as a barking German shepherd dog circled around them at a trot. The air had a heavy quality and the sky over the mountains was overcast and stormy. Francis’s coat whipped out behind him in theatrical billows; he kept glancing furtively around to see if his inquisitor was anywhere nearby and from time to time he emitted a faint, self-pitying cough.

“Why the hell haven’t you paid those parking tickets?” Henry whispered to him.

“Leave me alone.”

We crept through the snow for what seemed like hours, until the energetic needle pricks in my feet subsided to an uncomfortable numbness; heavy boots of policemen, crunching black in the snow, night sticks swinging ponderously from heavy belts. A helicopter overhead swooped in with a roar over the trees, hovered above us for a moment, then darted back the way it had come. The light was thinning and people were trailing up the trampled hillside towards home.

“Let’s go,” said Francis, for the fourth or fifth time.

We were starting away at last when a strolling policeman stopped in front of our path. “Had enough?” he said, smiling, a big red-faced guy with a red moustache.

“I believe so,” said Henry. “You kids know that boy?” “As a matter of fact, we do.”

“No ideas where he might of went off to?”

If this was a movie, I thought, looking pleasantly into the pleasant beefy face of the policeman—if this was a movie, we’d all be fidgeting and acting really suspicious.


“How much does a television cost?” said Henry on the way home. “Why?”

“Because I’d like to see the news tonight.”

“I think they’re kind of expensive,” said Francis. “There’s a television in the attic of Monmouth,” I said. “Does it belong to anyone?”

“I’m sure it does.”

“Well,” said Henry, “we’ll take it back when we’re finished with it.” Francis kept watch while Henry and I went up to the attic and searched through broken lamps, cardboard boxes, ugly Art I oil paintings. Finally we found the television behind an old rabbit hutch and carried it down the stairs to Henry’s car. On the way over to

Francis’s, we stopped by for the twins.

“The Corcorans have been trying to get in touch with you this afternoon,” said Camilla to Henry.

“Mr. Corcoran’s called half a dozen times.” “Julian called, too. He’s very upset.”

“And Cloke,” said Charles.

Henry stopped. “What did he want?”

“He wanted to make sure that you and I hadn’t said anything about drugs when we talked to the police this morning.”

“What did you tell him?”

“I said I hadn’t, but I didn’t know about you.”

“Come on,” said Francis, glancing at his watch. “We’re going to miss it if you don’t hurry.”


We put the television on Francis’s dining room table and fooled around with it until we got a decent picture. The final credits of “Petticoat Junction” were rolling past, over shots of the Hooterville water tower, the Cannonball express.

The news was next. As the theme song died away, a small circle appeared in the left-hand corner of the newscaster’s desk; within it was a stylized picture of a policeman shining a flashlight and holding a straining dog back by a leash and, underneath, the word MANHUNT.

The newscaster looked at the camera. “Hundreds search and thousands pray,” she said, “as the hunt for Hampden College student Edmund Corcoran begins in the Hampden area.”

The picture shifted to a pan of a thickly wooded area; a line of searchers, filmed from behind, beat in the underbrush with sticks, while the German shepherd dog we had seen earlier laughed and

barked at us from the screen.

“Where are you guys?” said Camilla. “Are you in there somewhere?”

“Look,” said Francis. “There’s that horrible man.”

“One hundred volunteers,” said the voice-over, “arrived this morning to help Hampden College students in the search for their classmate, who has been missing since Sunday afternoon. Until now there have been no leads in the search for the twenty-four-year-old Edmund Corcoran, of Shady Brook, Connecticut, but ActionNews Twelve has just received an important phone tip which authorities think may provide a new angle in the case.”

“What?” said Charles, to the television set.

“We go now to Rick Dobson, live on the scene.”

The picture switched to a man in a trench coat, holding a microphone and standing in front of what appeared to be a gas station.

“I know that place,” said Francis, leaning forward. “That’s Redeemed Repair on Highway 6.”

“Ssh,” somebody said.

The wind was blowing hard. The microphone shrieked, then died down with a sputtering noise. “This afternoon,” the reporter said, chin low, “at one-fifty-six p.m., ActionNews Twelve received an important piece of information which may provide a break for police in the recent Hampden missing-persons case.”

The camera pulled back to reveal an old man in coveralls, a woolen cap, and a greasy dark windbreaker. He was staring to the side in a fixed manner; his head was round and his face as bland and untroubled as a baby’s.

“I am now with William Hundy,” the reporter said, “co-owner of Redeemed Repair in Hampden, a member of the Hampden County Rescue Squad who has just come forward with this information.”

Henry,” said Francis. I was startled to see that his face had all of a sudden got very white.

Henry reached in his pocket for a cigarette. “Yes,” he said tersely. “I see.”

“What’s the matter?” I said.

Henry tamped the cigarette down on the side of the pack. He didn’t take his eyes from the screen. “That man,” he said, “fixes my car.”

“Mr. Hundy,” said the reporter, “will you tell us what you saw on Sunday afternoon?”

“Oh, my God,” said Charles. “Hush,” said Henry.

The mechanic glanced shyly at the camera, and then away. “Sunday afternoon,” he said, in a nasal Vermont voice, “there was a cream-colored LeMans, few years old, pulled up to that pump over there.” Awkwardly, as an afterthought, he raised his arm and pointed somewhere off camera. “It was three men, two in the front seat, one in the back. Out-of-towners. Seemed in a hurry. Wouldn’t have thought a thing of it except that boy was with them. I recognized him when I saw his picture in the paper.”

My heart had nearly stopped—three men, white car—but then the details registered. We were four, with Camilla, too, and Bunny hadn’t been anywhere near the car on Sunday. And Henry drove a BMW, which was far from a Pontiac.

Henry had stopped tapping the unlit cigarette on the side of the pack; it dangled loosely between his fingers.

“Although no ransom note has been received by the Corcoran family, authorities have not yet ruled out the possibility of kidnapping. This is Rick Dobson, reporting live from ActionNews Twelve.”

“Thank you, Rick. If any of our viewers have further information on this or any other story, they are urged to call our Tips Line, 363-TIPS, between the hours of nine and five.…

“Today the Hampden County School Board took a vote on what may be the most controversial …”

We stared at the television in astonished silence for what seemed several minutes. Finally the twins looked at each other and started to laugh.

Henry shook his head, still looking incredulously at the screen. “Vermonters,” he said.

“Do you know this man?” said Charles.

“I’ve taken my car to him for the last two years.” “Is he crazy?”

He shook his head again. “Crazy, lying, out for the reward. I don’t know what to say. He always seemed sane enough, though he did drag me off in a corner once and start talking about Christ’s kingdom on earth.”

“Well, for whatever reason,” said Francis, “he’s done us a tremendous favor.”

“I don’t know,” said Henry. “Kidnapping is a serious crime. If this

turns into a criminal investigation they may stumble across something we’d rather they didn’t know.”

“How could they? What does any of this have to do with us?”

“I don’t mean anything big. But there are a great many little things which would be just as damning if anyone took the trouble to add them up. I was a fool to put those plane tickets on my credit card, for instance. We’d have a difficult time explaining that. And your trust fund, Francis? And our bank accounts? Massive withdrawals over the last six months, and nothing to show for it. Bunny’s got an awful lot of new clothes hanging in his closet that he couldn’t possibly have paid for himself.”

“Somebody would have to dig pretty deep to find that.”

“Someone would only have to make two or three well-placed phone calls.”

Just then the telephone rang. “Oh, God,” Francis wailed. “Don’t answer it,” said Henry.

But Francis picked it up anyway, as I knew he would. “Yes,” he said carefully. Pause. “Well, hello to you too, Mr. Corcoran,” he said, sitting down and giving us the OK signal with thumb and forefinger. “Have you heard anything?”

A very long pause. Francis listened attentively for some minutes, looking at the floor and nodding; after a while he began to bob his foot up and down impatiently.

“What’s going on?” Charles whispered.

Francis held the phone away from his ear and made a gabby mouth sign with his hand.

“I know what he wants,” Charles said bleakly. “He wants us to come over to his hotel and have dinner.”

“Actually, sir, we’ve already had our dinner,” Francis was saying. “… No, of course not.… Yes. Oh, yes sir, I’ve been trying to get in touch with you, but you know how confused things are.… Certainly.


Finally he hung up. We stared at him.

He shrugged. “Well,” he said, “I tried. He’s expecting us at the hotel in twenty minutes.”


“I’m not going by myself.” “Is he alone?”

“No.” Francis had drifted into the kitchen; we could hear him

opening and shutting cabinets. “It’s the whole crew except for Teddy, and they’re expecting him any minute.”

There was a slight pause.

“What are you doing in there?” said Henry. “Making myself a drink.”

“Make me one, too,” said Charles. “Scotch all right?”

“I’d rather bourbon if you’ve got it.” “Make that two,” said Camilla.

“Just bring the whole bottle in, why don’t you,” Henry said.


After they left, I lay on Francis’s couch, smoking his cigarettes and drinking his Scotch, and watched “Jeopardy.” One of the contestants was from San Gilberto, which is really close to where I grew up, only five or six miles away. All those suburbs tend to run into one other out there, so you can’t always tell where one ends and the next begins.

After that came a made-for-television movie. It was about the threat of the earth colliding with another planet and how all the scientists in the world united to avert the catastrophe. A hack astronomer, who is constantly on talk shows and whose name you would probably recognize, played himself in a cameo role.

For some reason, I felt uneasy about watching the news alone when it came on at eleven, so I turned to PBS and watched something called “History of Metallurgy.” It was actually quite interesting, but I was tired and a bit drunk, and I fell asleep before it ended.


When I awoke, a blanket had been thrown over me, and the room was blue with a cold dawn light. Francis sat in the windowsill with his back to me; he was wearing his clothes from the night before and he was eating maraschino cherries from a jar balanced on his knee.

I sat up. “What time is it?”

“Six,” he said without turning around, his mouth full. “Why didn’t you wake me up?”

“I didn’t get in until four-thirty. Too drunk to drive you home. Want a cherry?”

He was still drunk. His collar was open and his clothes disordered; his voice was flat and toneless.

“Where were you all night?” “With the Corcorans.”

“Not drinking.” “Of course.” “Till four?”

“They were still going at it when we left. There were five or six cases of beer in the bathtub.”

“I didn’t know it was going to be a frivolous occasion.”

“It was donated by the Food King,” said Francis. “The beer, I mean. Mr. Corcoran and Brady got hold of some of it and brought it to the hotel.”

“Where are they staying?”

“I don’t know,” he said dully. “Terrible place. One of those big flat motels with a neon sign and no room service. All the rooms were connected. Hugh’s children screaming and throwing potato chips, the television going in every room. It was hell.… Really,” he said humorlessly as I started to laugh, “I think I could get through anything after last night. Survive a nuclear war. Fly a plane. Somebody—one of those damned toddlers, I guess—got my favorite scarf off the bed and wrapped up part of a chicken leg in it. That nice silk one with the pattern of clocks on it. It’s just ruined.”

“Were they upset?”

“Who, the Corcorans? Of course not. I don’t think they even noticed.”

“I don’t mean about the scarf.”

“Oh.” He got another cherry from the jar. “They were all upset I suppose, in a way. Nobody talked about much else but they didn’t seem out of their minds or anything. Mr. Corcoran would act all sad and worried for a while, then the next thing you knew he’d be playing with the baby, giving everybody beer.”

“Was Marion there?”

“Yes. Cloke, too. He went for a drive with Brady and Patrick and came back reeking of pot. Henry and I sat on the radiator all night and talked to Mr. Corcoran. I guess Camilla went over to say hello to Hugh and his wife and got trapped. I don’t even know what happened to Charles.”

After a moment or so, Francis shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said. “Does it ever strike you, in a horrible sort of way, how funny this is?”

“Well, it’s not all that funny really.”

“I guess not,” he said, lighting a cigarette with shaky hands. “And Mr. Corcoran said the National Guard is coming up today, too. What a


For some time I had been staring at the jar of cherries without realizing fully what they were. “Why are you eating those?” I said.

“I don’t know,” he said, staring down at the jar. “They taste really bad.”

“Throw them away.”

He struggled with the window sash. It sailed up with a grinding noise.

A blast of icy air hit me in the face. “Hey,” I said.

He threw the jar out the window and then leaned on the sash with all his weight. I went over to help him. Finally, it crashed down, and the draperies floated down to rest placidly by the windows. The cherry juice had left a spattered red trajectory on the snow.

“Kind of a Jean Cocteau touch, isn’t it?” Francis said. “I’m exhausted. If you don’t mind, I’m going to have a bath now.”


He was running the water and I was on my way out when the phone rang.

It was Henry. “Oh,” he said. “I’m sorry. I thought I dialed Francis.” “You did. Hold on a second.” I put down the phone and called for


He came in in his trousers and undershirt, his face half-lathered, a razor in his hand. “Who is it?”


“Tell him I’m in the bath.” “He’s in the bath,” I said.

“He is not in the bath,” said Henry. “He is standing in the room with you. I can hear him.”

I gave Francis the telephone. He held it away from his face so he wouldn’t get any soap on the receiver.

I could hear Henry talking indistinctly. After a moment, Francis’s sleepy eyes widened.

“Oh, no,” he said. “Not me.”

Henry’s voice again, curt and businesslike.

“No. I mean it, Henry. I’m tired and I’m going to sleep and there’s no way—”

Suddenly, his face changed. To my great surprise he cursed loudly and slammed down the receiver so hard that it jangled.

“What is it?”

He was staring at the phone. “God damn him,” he said. “He hung

up on me.”

“What’s the matter?”

“He wants us to go out with that damn search party again. Now. I’m not like he is. I can’t just stay up for five or six days at a—”

“Now? But it’s so early.”

“It started an hour ago, so he says. Damn him. Doesn’t he ever sleep?”


We had not spoken about the incident in my room several nights before and, in the drowsy silence of the car, I felt the need to make things plain.

“You know, Francis,” I said. “What?”

It seemed the best thing was just to come right out and say it. “You know,” I said, “I’m really not attracted to you. I mean, not that—”

“Isn’t that interesting,” he said coolly. “I’m really not attracted to you, either.”


“You were there.”

We drove the rest of the way to school in a not very comfortable silence.


Unbelievably, things had escalated even more during the night. There now were hundreds of people: people in uniforms, people with dogs and bullhorns and cameras, people buying sweet rolls from the concessions truck and trying to peek into the dark windows of the news vans—three of them, one from the station in Boston—parked on Commons lawn, along with the overflow of vehicles from the parking lot.

We found Henry on the front porch of Commons. He was reading, with absorbed interest, a tiny, vellum-bound book written in some Near Eastern language. The twins—sleepy, red-nosed, rumpled—were sprawled on a bench like a couple of teenagers, passing a cup of coffee back and forth.

Francis half nudged, half kicked the toe of Henry’s shoe. Henry started. “Oh,” he said. “Good morning.”

“How can you even say that. I haven’t had a wink of sleep. I haven’t eaten anything in about three days.”

Henry marked his place with a ribbon and slipped the book in his breast pocket. “Well,” he said amiably, “go get a doughnut, then.”

“I don’t have any money.”

“I’ll give you the money, then.”

“I don’t want a goddamn doughnut.”

I went over and sat down with the twins.

“You missed quite a time last night,” said Charles to me. “So I hear.”

“Hugh’s wife showed us baby pictures for an hour and a half.” “Yes, at least,” said Camilla. “And Henry drank a beer from a can.” Silence.

“So what did you do,” Charles said. “Nothing. Watched a movie on TV.”

They both perked up. “Oh, really? The thing about the planets colliding?”

“Mr. Corcoran had it on but somebody switched channels before it was over,” said Camilla.

“How’d it end?”

“What’s the last part you saw?”

“They were in the mountain laboratory. The young enthusiastic scientists had all ganged up on that cynical old scientist who didn’t want to help.”

I was explaining the dénouement when Cloke Rayburn abruptly shouldered through the crowd. I stopped talking, thinking he was headed for the twins and me, but instead he only nodded to us and walked up to Henry, who now was standing on the edge of the porch.

“Listen,” I heard him say. “I didn’t get a chance to talk to you last night. I got hold of those guys in New York and Bunny hasn’t been there.”

Henry didn’t say anything for a moment. Then he said: “I thought you said you couldn’t get in touch with them.”

“Well, it’s possible, it’s just like a big headache. But they hadn’t seen him, anyway.”

“How do you know?” “What?”

“I thought you said you couldn’t believe a word they said.” He looked startled. “I did?”


“Hey, listen to me,” said Cloke, taking off his sunglasses. His eyes were bloodshot and pouchy. “These guys are telling the truth. I didn’t think of this before—well, I guess it hasn’t been that long—but anyway, the story’s all over the New York papers. If they really did

something to him, they wouldn’t be sticking around their apartment taking phone calls from me.… What is it, man?” he said nervously when Henry didn’t respond. “You didn’t say anything to anybody, did you?”

Henry made an indistinct noise in the back of his throat, which might have meant anything.


“No one has asked,” said Henry.

There was no expression on his face. Cloke, his discomfiture evident, waited for him to continue. Finally, he put on his sunglasses again in a slightly defensive manner.

“Well,” he said. “Um. Okay, then. See you later.”

After he’d gone Francis turned to Henry, a bemused look on his face. “What on earth are you up to?” he said.

But Henry didn’t answer.


The day passed like a dream. Voices, dogs barking, the whap of a helicopter overhead. The wind was strong and the roar of it in the trees was like an ocean. The helicopter had been sent from the New York State Police headquarters in Albany; it had, we were told, a special infrared heat sensor. Someone had also volunteered something called an “ultra-light” aircraft which swooped overhead, barely clearing the tops of the trees. There were real ranks now, squadron leaders with bullhorns, we marched over the snowy hills wave upon wave.

Cornfields, pastures, knolls heavy with undergrowth. As we approached the base of the mountain the land took a downward slope. A thick fog lay in the valley below, a smoldering cauldron of white from which only the treetops protruded, stark and Dantesque. By degrees, we descended, and the world sank from view. Charles, beside me, stood out sharp and almost hyper-realistic with his ruddy cheeks and labored breaths but further down, Henry had become a wraith, his large form light and strangely insubstantial in the mist.

When the ground rose several hours later, we came up on the rear of another, smaller party. In it were some people I was surprised and somehow touched to see. There was Martin Hoffer, an old and distinguished composer on the music faculty; the middle-aged lady who checked IDs in the lunch line, looking inexplicably tragic in her plain cloth coat; Dr. Roland, the blares of his nose-blowing audible even at a distance.

“Look,” said Charles. “That’s not Julian, is it?” “Where?”

“Surely not,” said Henry.

But it was. Rather characteristically, he pretended not to see us until we were so close it was impossible for him to ignore us any longer. He was listening to a tiny, fox-faced lady whom I knew to be a housekeeper in the dorms.

“Goodness,” he said, when she had finished talking, drawing back in mock surprise. “Where did you come from? Do you know Mrs. O’Rourke?”

Mrs. O’Rourke smiled shyly. “I seen all of you before,” she said. “The kids think the maids don’t notice them, but I know you all by sight.”

“Well, I should hope so,” said Charles. “You haven’t forgotten me, have you? Bishop House, number ten?”

He said this so warmly that she flushed with pleasure.

“Sure,” she said. “I remember you. You was the one was always running off with my broom.”

During this exchange Henry and Julian were talking softly. “You should have told me before now,” I heard Julian say.

“We did tell you.”

“Well, you did, but still. Edmund’s missed class before,” said Julian, looking distressed. “I thought he was playing sick. People are saying that he’s been kidnapped but I think that’s rather silly, don’t you?”

“I’d rather one of mine be kidnapped than out in this snow for six days,” said Mrs. O’Rourke.

“Well, I certainly hope that nothing has happened to him. You know, don’t you, that his family is here? Have you seen them?”

“Not today,” said Henry.

“Of course, of course,” said Julian hastily. He disliked the Corcorans. “I haven’t been to see them either, it’s really not the time to intrude.… This morning I did run into the father quite by accident, and one of the brothers as well. He had a baby with him. Riding it on his shoulders as if they were on their way to a picnic.”

“Little one like him had no business being out in this weather,” said Mrs. O’Rourke. “Hardly three years old.”

“Yes, I’m afraid I agree. I can’t imagine why anyone would have a baby along on something like this.”

“I certainly wouldn’t have let one of mine yell and carry on like that.”

“Perhaps it was cold,” murmured Julian. The tone he used was a delicate cue that he had tired of the subject and wished to stop talking about it.

Henry cleared his throat. “Did you talk to Bunny’s father?” he said. “Only for a moment. He—well, I suppose we all have different ways

of handling these things.… Edmund looks a great deal like him, doesn’t he?”

“All the brothers do,” said Camilla.

Julian smiled. “Yes! And so many of them! Like something from a fairy story.…” He glanced at his watch. “Goodness,” he said, “it’s late.”

Francis started from his morose silence. “Are you leaving now?” he asked Julian anxiously. “Do you want me to drive you?”

This was a blatant attempt at escape. Henry’s nostrils flared, not so much in anger as in a kind of exasperated amusement: he gave Francis a dirty look, but then Julian, who was gazing into the distance and quite unaware of the drama which hinged on his reply, shook his head.

“No, thank you,” he said. “Poor Edmund. I’m really quite worried, you know.”

“Just think how his parents must feel,” said Mrs. O’Rourke.

“Yes,” said Julian, in a tone of voice which managed to convey at once both sympathy with and distaste for the Corcorans.

“I’d be wild if it was me.”

Unexpectedly, Julian shuddered and turned up the collar of his coat. “Last night I was so upset I could hardly sleep,” he said. “He’s such a sweet boy, so silly; I’m really very fond of him. If anything should have happened to him I don’t know if I could bear it.”

He was looking over the hills, at all that grand cinematic expanse of men and wilderness and snow that lay beneath us; and though his voice was anxious there was a strange dreamy look on his face. The business had upset him, that I knew, but I also knew that there was something about the operatic sweep of the search which could not fail to appeal to him and that he was pleased, however obscurely, with the aesthetics of the thing.

Henry saw it, too. “Like something from Tolstoy, isn’t it?” he remarked.

Julian looked over his shoulder, and I was startled to see that there was real delight on his face.

Yes,” he said. “Isn’t it, though?”


At about two in the afternoon, two men in dark overcoats walked up to us from nowhere.

“Charles Macaulay?” said the shorter of the two. He was a barrel-chested fellow with hard, genial eyes.

Charles, beside me, stopped and looked at him blankly.

The man reached in his breast pocket and flipped out a badge. “Agent Harvey Davenport, Northeast Regional Division, FBI.”

For a moment I thought Charles might lose his composure. “What do you want?” he said, blinking.

“We’d like to talk to you, if you don’t mind.”

“It won’t take long,” said the taller man. He was an Italian with stooped shoulders and a sad, doughy nose. His voice was soft and pleasant.

Henry, Francis, Camilla had all stopped and were staring at the strangers with varying degrees of interest and alarm.

“Besides,” said Davenport snappily. “Good to get out of the cold for a minute or two. Bet you’re freezing your balls off, huh?”


After they left, the rest of us were bristling with anxiety, but of course we couldn’t talk and so we continued to shuffle along, eyes on the ground and half afraid to look up. Soon it was three o’clock, then four. Things were far from over, but at the first premature signs that the day’s search was breaking up we headed rapidly and silent for the car.


“What do you suppose they want with him?” said Camilla for about the tenth time.

“I don’t know,” said Henry.

“He gave them a statement already.”

“He gave the police one. Not these people.”

“What difference does it make? Why would they want to talk to him?”

“I don’t know, Camilla.”


When we got to the twins’ apartment we were relieved to find Charles there, alone. He was lying on the couch, a drink on the table beside him, talking to his grandmother on the telephone.

He was a little drunk. “Nana says hi,” he said to Camilla when he got off the phone. “She’s all worried. Some bug or something has got up into her azaleas.”

“What’s that all over your hands?” said Camilla sharply.

He held them out, palms up, none too steadily. The tips of the fingers were black. “They took my fingerprints,” he said. “It was kind of interesting. I’d never had it done before.”

For a moment we were all too shocked to say anything. Henry stepped forward, took one of his hands and examined it beneath the light. “Do you know why they did it?” he said.

Charles wiped his brow with the back of his free wrist. “They’ve sealed off Bunny’s room,” he said. “Some people are in there dusting for prints and putting things in plastic bags.”

Henry dropped his hand. “But why?”

“I don’t know why. They wanted the fingerprints of everybody who’d been in the room on Thursday and touched things.”

“What good will that do? They don’t have Bunny’s fingerprints.” “Apparently they do have them. Bunny was in the Boy Scouts and

his troop went in and was fingerprinted for some kind of Law Enforcement badge, years ago. They’re still on file somewhere.”

Henry sat down. “Why did they want to talk to you?” “That was the first thing they asked me.”


“ ‘Why do you think we want to talk to you.’ ” He dragged the heel of his hand down the side of his face. “These people are smart, Henry,” he said. “A lot smarter than the police.”

“How did they treat you?”

Charles shrugged. “The one called Davenport was pretty brusque. The other one—the Italian—was nicer, but he scared me. Didn’t say much, just listened. He’s much more clever than the other one.…”

“Well?” said Henry impatiently. “What is it?”

“Nothing. We … I don’t know. We’ve got to be really careful, that’s all. They tried to trip me up more than once.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, when I told them Cloke and I had gone down to Bunny’s

room around four on Thursday, for instance.” “That’s when you did go,” said Francis.

“I know that. But the Italian—really, he’s a very pleasant man— began to look all concerned. ‘Can that be right, son?’ he said. ‘Think.’ I was really confused, because I knew we went at four, and then Davenport said, ‘You’d better think about it, because your buddy Cloke told us you two were down at that room for a solid hour before you called anybody.’ ”

“They wanted to see if you and Cloke had anything to hide,” Henry said.

“Maybe. Maybe they just wanted to see if I would lie about it.” “Did you?”

“No. But if they’d asked me something a little touchier, and I was kind of scared … You don’t realize what it’s like. There are two of them, and only one of you, and you don’t have much time to think.… I know, I know,” he said despairingly. “But it’s not like the police. These small-town cops don’t actually expect to find anything. They’d be shocked to know the truth, probably wouldn’t believe it if you told them. But these guys …” He shuddered. “I never realized, you know, how much we rely on appearances,” he said. “It’s not that we’re so smart, it’s just that we don’t look like we did it. We might as well be a bunch of Sunday-school teachers as far as everyone else is concerned. But these guys won’t be taken in by that.” He picked up his glass and took a drink. “By the way,” he said, “they asked a million questions about your trip to Italy.”

Henry glanced up, startled. “Did they ask at all about the finances?

Who paid for it?”

“No.” Charles finished off the glass and rattled the ice around for a moment. “I was terrified they would. But I think they were kind of overly impressed by the Corcorans. I think if I told them that Bunny never wore the same pair of underpants twice they would probably believe me.”

“What about that Vermonter?” Francis said. “The one on television last night?”

“I don’t know. They were a lot more interested in Cloke than anything else, it seemed to me. Maybe they just wanted to make sure his story matched up with mine, but there were a couple of really strange questions that—I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s going around telling people this theory of his, that Bunny was kidnapped by drug dealers.”

“Certainly not,” said Francis.

“Well, he told us, and we’re not even his friends. Though the FBI men seem to think he and I are on intimate terms.”

“I hope you took pains to correct them,” said Henry, lighting a cigarette.

“I’m sure Cloke would have set them straight on that account.”

“Not necessarily,” said Henry. He shook out his match and threw it in an ashtray; then he inhaled deeply on his cigarette. “You know,” he said, “I thought at first that this association with Cloke was a great misfortune. Now I see it’s one of the best things that could have happened to us.”

Before anyone could ask him what he meant, he glanced at his watch. “Goodness,” he said. “We’d better go. It’s almost six.”


On the way to Francis’s, a pregnant dog ran across the road in front of us.

“That,” said Henry, “is a very bad omen.” But of what he wouldn’t say.


The news was just beginning. The anchorman glanced up from his papers, looking grave but at the same time very pleased. “The frantic search—thus far a fruitless one—continues, for missing Hampden College student Edward Corcoran.”

“Gosh,” said Camilla, reaching into her brother’s coat pocket for a cigarette. “You’d think they’d get his name right, don’t you?”

The picture cut to an aerial shot of snowy hills, dotted like a war map with pinprick figures, Mount Cataract looming lopsided and huge in the foreground.

“An estimated three hundred searchers,” said the voice-over, “including National Guard, police, Hampden firefighters and Central Vermont Public Service employees, combed the hard-to-reach area on this, Day Two of the search. In addition, the FBI has launched an investigation of its own in Hampden today.”

The picture wobbled, then switched abruptly to a lean, white-haired man in a cowboy hat who the caption informed us was Dick Postonkill, Hampden County sheriff. He was talking, but no sound came from his mouth; searchers milled curiously in the snowy background, raising on tiptoe to jeer silently at the camera.

After a few moments, the audio lurched on with a jerky, garbled sound. The sheriff was in the middle of a sentence.

“—to remind hikers,” he said, “to go out in groups, stay on the trail, leave a projected itinerary and carry plenty of warm clothing in case of sudden drops in temperature.”

“That was Hampden County sheriff Dick Postonkill,” said the anchorman brightly, “with a few tips for our viewers on winter hiking safety.” He turned, and the camera zoomed in on him at a different angle. “One of the only leads so far in the Corcoran disappearance case has been provided by William Hundy, a local businessman and ActionNews Twelve viewer, who phoned our TIPS line with information regarding the missing youth. Today Mr. Hundy has been cooperating with state and local authorities in providing a description of Corcoran’s alleged abductors.…”

“ ‘State and local,’ ” said Henry. “What?”

“Not federal.”

“Of course not,” said Charles. “Do you think the FBI is going to believe some dumb story that a Vermonter made up?”

“Well, if they don’t, why are they here?” said Henry.

This was a disconcerting thought. In the brilliant, delayed-tape noontime sun, a group of men hurried down the courthouse steps. Mr. Hundy, his head down, was among them. His hair was slicked back and he wore, in lieu of his service station uniform, a baby-blue leisure suit.

A reporter—Liz Ocavello, a sort of local celebrity, with her own current-issues program and a segment called “Movie Beat” on the local news—approached, microphone in hand. “Mr. Hundy,” she said. “Mr. Hundy.”

He stopped, confused, as his companions walked ahead and left him standing alone on the steps. Then they realized what was going on and came back up to huddle around him in an official-looking cluster. They grabbed Hundy by the elbows and made as if to hustle him away but he hung back, reluctant.

“Mr. Hundy,” said Liz Ocavello, nudging her way in. “I understand you have been working today with police artists on composite drawings of the persons you saw with the missing boy on Sunday.”

Mr. Hundy nodded rather briskly. His shy, evasive manner of the day before had given way to a slightly more assertive stance.

“Could you tell us what they looked like?”

The men surged around Mr. Hundy once more, but he seemed entranced by the camera. “Well,” he said, “they wasn’t from around

here. They was … dark.” “Dark?”

They now were tugging him down the steps, and he glanced back over his shoulder, as if sharing a confidence. “Arabs,” he said. “You know.”

Liz Ocavello, behind her glasses and her big anchorwoman hairdo, accepted this disclosure so blandly that I thought I’d heard it wrong. “Thank you, Mr. Hundy,” she said, turning away, as Mr. Hundy and his friends disappeared down the steps. “This is Liz Ocavello at the Hampden County Courthouse.”

“Thanks, Liz,” the newscaster said cheerily, swiveling in his chair. “Wait,” said Camilla. “Did he say what I thought he said?” “What?”

Arabs? He said Bunny got in a car with some Arabs?

“In a related development,” the anchorman said, “area churches have joined hands in a prayer effort for the missing boy. According to Reverend A. K. Poole of First Lutheran, several churches in the tri-state area, including First Baptist, First Methodist, Blessed Sacrament and Assembly of God, have offered up their—”

“I wonder what this mechanic of yours is up to, Henry,” said Francis.

Henry lit a cigarette. He had smoked it halfway down before he said: “Did they ask you anything about Arabs, Charles?”


“But they just said on television that Hundy’s not dealing with the FBI,” Camilla said.

“We don’t know that.”

“You don’t think it’s all some kind of setup?” “I don’t know what to think.”

The picture on the set had changed. A thin, well-groomed woman in her fifties—Chanel cardigan, pearls at the neckline, hair brushed into a stiff, shoulder-length flip—was talking, in a nasal voice which was oddly familiar.

“Yes,” she said; where had I heard that voice before? “The people of Hampden are ever so kind. When we arrived at our hotel, late yesterday afternoon, the concierge was waiting for—”

“Concierge,” said Francis, disgusted. “They don’t have a concierge at the Coachlight Inn.”

I studied this woman with new interest. “That’s Bunny’s mother?” “That’s right,” said Henry. “I keep forgetting. You haven’t met her.”

She was a slight woman, corded and freckled around the neck the way women of that age and disposition often are; she bore little resemblance to Bunny but her hair and eyes were the same color as his and she had his nose: a tiny, sharp, inquisitive nose which harmonized perfectly with the rest of her features but had always looked slightly incongruous on Bunny, stuck as it was like an afterthought in the middle of his large, blunt face. Her manner was haughty and distracted. “Oh,” she said, twisting a ring on her finger, “we’ve had a deluge, indeed, from all over the country. Cards, calls, the most glorious flowers—”

“Do they have her doped up or something?” I said. “What do you mean?”

“Well, she doesn’t seem very upset, does she?”

“Of course,” said Mrs. Corcoran reflectively, “of course, we’re all just out of our minds, really. And I certainly hope that no mother will ever have to endure what I have for the past few nights. But the weather does seem to be breaking, and we’ve met so many lovely people, and the local merchants have all been generous in so many little ways.…”

“Actually,” said Henry, when the station cut to a commercial, “she photographs rather well, doesn’t she?”

“She looks like a tough customer.”

“She’s from Hell,” Charles said drunkenly. “Oh, she’s not that bad,” said Francis.

“You just say that because she kisses up to you all the time,” Charles said. “Because of your mother and stuff.”

“Kiss up? What are you talking about? Mrs. Corcoran doesn’t kiss up

to me.”

“She’s awful,” Charles said. “It’s a horrible thing to tell your kids that money’s the only thing in the world, but it’s a disgrace to work for it. Then toss ’em out without a penny. She never gave Bunny one red—”

“That’s Mr. Corcoran’s fault, too,” said Camilla.

“Well, yeah, maybe. I don’t know. I just never met such a bunch of greedy, shallow people. You look at them and think, oh, what a tasteful, attractive family but they’re just a bunch of zeros, like something from an ad. They’ve got this room in their house,” Charles said, turning to me, “called the Gucci Room.”


“Well, they painted it with a dado, sort of, those awful Gucci

stripes. It was in all kinds of magazines. House Beautiful had it in some ridiculous article they did on Whimsy in Decorating or some absurd idea—you know, where they tell you to paint a giant lobster or something on your bedroom ceiling and it’s supposed to be very witty and attractive.” He lit a cigarette. “I mean, that’s exactly the kind of people they are,” he said. “All surface. Bunny was the best of them by a long shot but even he—”

“I hate Gucci,” said Francis.

“Do you?” said Henry, glancing up from his reverie. “Really? I think it’s rather grand.”

“Come on, Henry.”

“Well, it’s so expensive, but it’s so ugly too, isn’t it? I think they make it ugly on purpose. And yet people buy it out of sheer perversity.”

“I don’t see what you think is grand about that.”

“Anything is grand if it’s done on a large enough scale,” said Henry.


I was walking home that night, paying no attention to where I was going, when a large, sulky fellow approached me near the apple trees in front of Putnam House. He said: “Are you Richard Papen?”

I stopped, looked at him, said that I was.

To my astonishment, he punched me in the face, and I fell backward in the snow with a thump that knocked me breathless.

“Stay away from Mona!” he shouted at me. “If you go near her again, I’ll kill you. You understand me?”

Too stunned to reply, I stared up at him. He kicked me in the ribs, hard, and then trudged sullenly away—footsteps crunching through the snow, a slamming door.

I looked up at the stars. They seemed very far away. Finally, I struggled to my feet—there was a sharp pain in my ribs, but nothing seemed broken—and limped home in the dark.

I woke late the next morning. My eye hurt when I rolled on my cheek. I lay there for a while, blinking in the bright sun, as confused details of the previous night floated back to me like a dream; then I reached for my watch on the night table and saw that it was late, almost noon, and why had no one been by to get me?

I got up, and as I did my reflection rose to meet me, head-on in the opposite mirror; it stopped and stared—hair on end, mouth agog in idiotic astonishment—like a comic book character konked on the head with an anvil, chaplet of stars and birdies twittering about the brow.

Most startling of all, a splendid dark cartoon of a black eye was stamped in a ring on my eye socket, in the richest inks of Tyrian, chartreuse, and plum.


I brushed my teeth, dressed, and hurried outside, where the first familiar person I spotted was Julian on his way up to the Lyceum.

He drew back from me in innocent, Chaplinesque surprise. “Goodness,” he said, “what happened to you?”

“Have you heard anything this morning?”

“Why, no,” he said, looking at me curiously. “That eye. You look as if you were in a barroom brawl.”

Any other time I would have been too embarrassed to tell him the truth, but I was so sick of lying that I had an urge to come clean, on this small matter at least. So I told him what had happened.

I was surprised at his reaction. “So it was a brawl,” he said, with childish delight. “How thrilling. Are you in love with her?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know her too well.”

He laughed. “Dear me, you are being truthful today,” he said, with remarkable perspicuity. “Life has got awfully dramatic all of a sudden, hasn’t it? Just like a fiction.… By the way, did I tell you that some men came round to see me yesterday afternoon?”

“Who were they?”

“There were two of them. At first I was rather anxious—I thought they were from the State Department, or worse. You’ve heard of my problems with the Isrami government?”

I am not sure what Julian thought the Isrami government—terrorist state though it is—should want to do with him, but his fear of it came from his having taught its exiled crown princess about ten years before. After the revolution she’d been forced into hiding, had ended up somehow at Hampden College; Julian taught her for four years, in private tutorials supervised by the former Isrami minister of education, who would occasionally fly in from Switzerland, with gifts of caviar and chocolates, to make sure that the curriculum was suitable for the heir apparent to his country’s throne.

The princess was fabulously rich. (Henry had caught a glimpse of her once—dark glasses, full-length marten coat—clicking rapidly down the stairs of the Lyceum with her bodyguards at her heels.) The dynasty to which she belonged traced its origins to the Tower of Babel, and had accumulated a monstrous amount of wealth since then, a good deal of which her surviving relatives and associates had

managed to smuggle out of the country. But there was a price on her head, as a result of which she’d been isolated, overprotected, and largely friendless, even while a teenager at Hampden. Subsequent years had made her a recluse. She moved from place to place, terrified of assassins; her whole family—except for a cousin or two and a little half-wit brother who was in an institution—had been picked off one by one over the years and even the old Minister of Education, six months after the princess was graduated from college, had died of a sniper’s bullet, sitting in the garden of his own little red-roofed house in Montreux.

Julian was uninvolved in Isrami politics despite his fondness for the princess and his sympathy—on principle—with royalists instead of revolutionaries. But he refused to travel by airplane or accept packages COD, lived in fear of unexpected visitors, and had not been abroad in eight or nine years. Whether these were reasonable precautions or excessive ones I do not know, but his connection with the princess did not seem a particularly strong one and I, for one, suspected that the Isramic jihad had better things to do than hunting down Classics tutors in New England.

“Of course, they weren’t from the State Department at all but they were connected with the government in some way. I have a sixth sense about such things, isn’t that curious? One of the men was an Italian, very charming, really … courtly, almost, in a funny sort of way. I was rather puzzled by it all. They said that Edmund was on drugs.”


“Do you think that odd? I think it very odd.” “What did you say?”

“I said certainly not. I may be flattering myself, but I do think I know Edmund rather well. He’s really quite timid, puritanical, almost.

… I can’t imagine him doing anything of the sort and besides, young people who take drugs are always so bovine and prosaic. But do you know what this man said to me? He said that with young people, you can never tell. I don’t think that’s right, do you? Do you think that’s right?”

We walked through Commons—I could hear the crash of plates overhead in the dining hall—and, on the pretext of having business on that end of campus, I walked on with Julian to the Lyceum.

That part of school, on the North Hampden side, was usually peaceful and desolate, the snow trackless and undisturbed beneath the

pines until spring. Now it was trampled and littered like a fairgrounds. Someone had run a Jeep into an elm tree-broken glass, twisted fender, horrible splintered wound gaping yellow in the trunk; a foul-mouthed group of townie kids slid and shrieked down the hillside on a piece of cardboard.

“Goodness,” said Julian, “those poor children.”

I left him at the back door of the Lyceum and walked to Dr. Roland’s office. It was a Sunday, he wasn’t there; I let myself in and locked the door behind me and spent the afternoon in happy seclusion: grading papers, drinking muddy drip coffee from a mug that said RHONDA, and half-listening to the voices from down the hall.

I have the idea that those voices were in fact audible, and that I could have understood what they were saying if I’d paid any attention, but I didn’t. It was only later, after I’d left the office and forgotten all about them, that I learned whom they belonged to, and that maybe I hadn’t been quite so safe that afternoon as I’d thought.


The FBI men, said Henry, had set up a temporary headquarters in an empty classroom down the hall from Dr. Roland’s office, and that was where they talked to him. They hadn’t been twenty feet from where I sat, were even drinking the same muddy coffee from the same pot I’d made in the teacher’s lounge. “That’s odd,” said Henry. “The first thing I thought of when I tasted that coffee was you.”

“What do you mean?”

“It tasted strange. Burnt. Like your coffee.”

The classroom (Henry said) had a blackboard covered with quadratic equations, and two full ashtrays, and a long conference table at which the three of them sat. There was also a laptop computer, a litigation bag with the FBI insignia in yellow, and a box of maple sugar candies—acorns, wee pilgrims, in fluted paper cups. They belonged to the Italian. “For my kids,” he said.

Henry, of course, had done marvelously. He didn’t say so, but then he didn’t have to. He, in some senses, was the author of this drama and he had waited in the wings a long while for this moment, when he could step onto the stage and assume the role he’d written for himself: cool but friendly; hesitant; reticent with details; bright, but not as bright as he really was. He’d actually enjoyed talking to them, he told me. Davenport was a Philistine, not worth mentioning but the Italian was somber and polite, quite charming. (“Like one of those old Florentines Dante meets in Purgatory.”) His name was Sciola. He was

very interested in the trip to Rome, asked a lot of questions about it, not so much as investigator as fellow tourist. (“Did you boys happen to go out to the, what do you call it, San Prassede, out there around the train station? With that little chapel out on the side?”) He spoke Italian, too, and he and Henry had a brief and happy conversation which was cut short by the irritated Davenport, who didn’t understand a word and wanted to get down to business.

Henry was none too forthcoming, with me at least, about what that business actually was. But he did say that whatever track they were on, he was pretty sure it wasn’t the right one. “What’s more,” he said, “I think I’ve figured out what it is.”



“They don’t think Cloke killed him?”

“They think Cloke knows more than he’s telling. And they think his behavior is questionable. Which, as a matter of fact, it is. They know all kinds of things that I’m sure he didn’t tell them.”

“Like what?”

“The logistics of his drug business. Dates, names, places. Things that happened before he even came to Hampden. And they seemed to be trying to tie some of it up with me, which of course they weren’t able to do in any kind of satisfactory way. Goodness. They even asked about my prescriptions, painkillers I got from the infirmary in my freshman year. There were file folders all over the place, data that no single person has access to—medical histories, psychological evaluations, faculty comments, work samples, grades.… Of course, they made a point of letting me see they had all these things. Trying to intimidate me, I suppose. I know pretty much exactly what my records say, but Cloke’s … bad grades, drugs, suspensions—I’d be willing to bet he’s left quite a little trail of paper behind him. I don’t know if it’s the records per se that have made them curious, or if it was something Cloke himself had said when he talked to them; but mostly what they wanted from me—and from Julian, and from Brady and Patrick Corcoran, to whom they spoke last night-were details of Bunny’s association with Cloke. Julian, of course, didn’t know anything about it. Brady and Patrick apparently told them plenty. And I did, too.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Well, I mean, Brady and Patrick were out in the parking lot of the Coachlight Inn smoking pot with him night before last.”

“But what did you tell them?”

“What Cloke told us. About the drug business in New York.”

I leaned back in my chair. “Oh, my God,” I said. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”

“Of course,” said Henry serenely. “It was what they wanted to hear. They’d been circling around it all afternoon, when finally I decided to let it slip, they pounced.… I expect Cloke is in for an uncomfortable day or two but really, I think this is very fortunate for us. We couldn’t have asked for anything better to keep them busy until the snow melts

—and have you noticed how bright it’s been the last couple of days? I think the roads are already starting to clear.”


My black eye was the source of much interest, speculation, and debate

—I told Francis that the FBI men had done it just to watch his eyes get round—but not nearly so much as was an article in the Boston Herald. They’d sent a reporter up the day before, as had the New York Post and the New York Daily News, but the Herald reporter had scooped them all.


Federal agents investigating the April 24 disappearance of Edmund Corcoran, a twenty-four-year-old Hampden College student who has been the subject of an intensive manhunt in Vermont for the past three days, have found that the missing youth may have been involved with drugs. Federal authorities who searched Corcoran’s room discovered drug paraphernalia and heavy cocaine residue. Though Corcoran had no known history of drug abuse, sources close to the boy say that the normally extroverted Corcoran had become moody and withdrawn in the months prior to the disappearance. (See “What Your Child Won’t Tell You,” p. 6.)

We were puzzled by this account, though everyone else on campus seemed to know all about it. I got the story from Judy Poovey.

“You know what it was they found in his room? It was, like, this mirror that belonged to Laura Stora. I bet everybody in Durbinstall has done coke off that thing. Really old, with little grooves carved in the side, Jack Teitelbaum used to call it the Snow Queen because you could always scrape up a line or two if you were desperate or something. And sure, I guess it’s technically her mirror, but really it’s kind of public property and she said she hadn’t even seen it in about a

million years, somebody took it from a living room in one of the new houses in March. Bram Guernsey said that Cloke said it wasn’t in Bunny’s room when he was there before, that the Feds had planted it, but then Bram said that Cloke thought this whole thing was some kind of a set-up. A frame. Like in ‘Mission: Impossible,’ he meant, or one of those paranoia books by Philip K. Dick. He told Bram he thought the Feebies had a hidden camera planted somewhere in Durbinstall, all this wild stuff. Bram says it’s because Cloke is afraid to go to sleep and been up on crystal meth for forty-eight hours. He sits around in his room with the door locked and does lines and listens to this song by the Buffalo Springfield, over and over … you know that one? ‘Something’s happening here … what it is ain’t exactly clear.…’ It’s weird. People get upset, all of a sudden they want to listen to old hippie garbage they would never listen to if they were in their right mind, when my cat died I had to go out and borrow all these Simon and Garfunkel records. Anyway.” She lit a cigarette. “How did I get off on this? Right, Laura’s freaking out, somehow they traced the mirror to her and she’s already on probation, you know, had to do all this community service last fall because Flipper Leach got in trouble and ratted on Laura and Jack Teitelbaum—oh, you remember all that stuff, don’t you?”

“I never heard of Flipper Leach.”

“Oh, you know Flipper. She’s a bitch. Everybody calls her Flipper because she flipped over her dad’s Volvo, like, four times freshman year.”

“I don’t understand what this Flipper person has to do with this.” “Well, she doesn’t have anything to do with it, Richard, you’re just

like that guy in ‘Dragnet’ that always wants the facts. It’s just that Laura is freaking out, okay, and Student Services is threatening to call her parents unless she tells them how that mirror got in Bunny’s room, which she doesn’t even have a fucking clue, and, get this, those FBI men found out about the Ecstasy she had at Swing into Spring last week and they want her to give up the names. I said, ‘Laura, don’t do it, it’ll be just like that thing with Flipper and everybody’ll hate you and you’ll have to transfer to another school.’ It’s like Bram was saying—”

“Where is Cloke now?”

“That’s what I was going to tell you if you’d shut up a minute. Nobody knows. He was really wigged out and asked if he could borrow Bram’s car last night, to leave school, but this morning the car

was back in the parking lot with the keys in it and nobody’s seen him and he’s not in his room and something weird is happening there, too, but for sure I don’t know what it is.… I just won’t even do meth anymore. Heebiejeebieville. By the way, I’ve been meaning to ask you, what did you do to your eye?”


Back at Francis’s with the twins—Henry was having lunch with the Corcorans—I told them what Judy had told me.

“But I know that mirror,” said Camilla.

“I do, too,” said Francis. “Spotty old dark one. Bunny’s had it in his room for a while.”

“I thought it was his.”

“I wonder how he got hold of it.”

“If the girl left it in a living room,” said Charles, “he probably just found it and took it.”

This was highly probable. Bunny had had a mild tendency towards kleptomania, and was apt to pocket any small, valueless articles that caught his eye—nail clippers, buttons, spools of tape. These he hid around his room in jumbled little nests. It was a vice he practiced in secret, but at the same time he had felt no compunction about quite openly carrying away objects of greater value which he found unattended. He did this with such assurance and authority—tucking bottles of liquor or unguarded boxes from the florist under his arm and walking away without a backwards glance—that I wondered if he knew it was stealing. I once heard him explaining vigorously and quite unselfconsciously to Marion what he thought ought to be done to people who stole food from house refrigerators.


As bad as things were for Laura Stora, they were worse for the luckless Cloke. We were to discover later that he had not brought Bram Guernsey’s car back of his own volition, but had been impelled to do so by the FBI agents, who had had him pulled over before he was ten miles out of Hampden. They took him back to the classroom where they had set up headquarters, and kept him there for most of Sunday night, and while I don’t know what they said to him, I do know that by Monday morning he had requested to have an attorney present at the interview.


Mrs. Corcoran (said Henry) was burned up that anyone had dared suggest Bunny was on drugs. At lunch at the Brasserie, a reporter had

edged up to the Corcoran table to ask if they had any comment to make about the “drug paraphernalia” found in Bunny’s room.

Mr. Corcoran, startled, had lowered his eyebrows impressively and said, “Well, of course, haw, ahem,” but Mrs. Corcoran, sawing at her steak au poivre with subdued violence, launched without even looking up into a tart diatribe. Drug paraphernalia, as they chose to call it, was not drugs, and it was a pity the press chose to level accusations at persons not present to defend themselves, and she was having a hard enough time as it was without having strangers imply that her son was a drug kingpin. All of which was more or less reasonable and true, and which the Post reported dutifully the next day word for word, alongside an unflattering picture of Mrs. Corcoran with her mouth open and a headline which read: MOM SEZ: NOT MY KID.


On Monday night, about two in the morning, Camilla asked me to walk her home from Francis’s. Henry had left around midnight; and Francis and Charles, who’d been drinking hard since four o’clock, showed no signs of slowing down. They were entrenched in Francis’s kitchen with the lights turned out, preparing, with what I felt was alarming hilarity, a series of hazardous cocktails called “Blue Blazers” which involved ignited whiskey poured back and forth in a flaming arc between two pewter mugs.

At her apartment Camilla—shivering, preoccupied, her cheeks fever-red from the cold—asked me upstairs for a cup of tea. “I wonder if we should have left them there,” she said, switching on the lamp. “I’m afraid they’re going to set themselves on fire.”

“They’ll be all right,” I said, though the same thought had occurred to me.

We drank our tea. The lamplight was warm and the apartment still and snug. At home in bed, in my private abyss of longing, the scenes I dreamed of always began like this: drowsy drunken hour, the two of us alone, scenarios in which invariably she would brush against me as if by chance, or lean conveniently close, cheek touching mine, to point out a passage in a book; opportunities which I would seize, gently but manfully, as exordium to more violent pleasures.

The teacup was too hot; it burned my fingertips. I set it down and looked at her—oblivious, smoking a cigarette, scarcely two feet away. I could lose myself forever in that singular little face, in the pessimism of her beautiful mouth. Come here, you. Let’s shut the light out, shall we? When I imagined these phrases cast in her voice, they were almost

intolerably sweet; now, sitting right beside her, it was unthinkable that I should voice them myself.

And yet: why should it be? She had been party to the killing of two men; had stood calm as a Madonna and watched Bunny die. I remembered Henry’s cool voice, scarcely six weeks earlier. There was a certain carnal element to the proceedings, yes.

“Camilla?” I said.

She glanced up, distracted.

“What really happened, that night in the woods?”

I think I had been expecting, if not surprise, at least a show of it. But she didn’t blink. “Well, I don’t remember an awful lot,” she said slowly. “And what I do remember is almost impossible to describe. It’s all much less clear than it was even a few months ago. I suppose I should have tried to write it down or something.”

“But what do you remember?”

It was a moment before she answered. “Well, I’m sure you’ve heard it all from Henry,” she said. “It seems a bit silly to even say it aloud. I remember a pack of dogs. Snakes twining around my arms. Trees on fire, pines bursting into flames like enormous torches. There was a fifth person with us for part of the time.”

“A fifth person?”

“It wasn’t always a person.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“You know what the Greeks called Dionysus.

. The Many-Formed One. Sometimes it was a man, sometimes a woman. And sometimes something else. I—I’ll tell you something that I do remember,” she said abruptly.


“What?” I said, hopeful at last for some passionate, back-clawing detail.

“That dead man. Lying on the ground. His stomach was torn open and steam was coming out of it.”

“His stomach?

“It was a cold night. I’ll never forget the smell of it, either. Like when my uncle used to cut up deer. Ask Francis. He remembers, too.”

I was too horrified to say anything. She reached for the teapot and poured a bit more into her cup. “Do you know,” she said, “why I think we’re having such bad luck this time around?”


“Because it’s terrible luck to leave a body unburied. That farmer they found straight away, you know. But remember poor Palinurus in

the Aeneid? He lingered around and haunted them for the longest time. I’m afraid that none of us are going to have a good night’s sleep until Bunny’s in the ground.”

“That’s nonsense.”

She laughed. “In the fourth century B.C., the sailing of the entire Attic fleet was delayed just because a soldier sneezed.”

“You’ve been talking too much to Henry.”

She was silent for a moment. Then she said: “Do you know what Henry made us do, a couple of days after that thing in the woods?”


“He made us kill a piglet.”

I was not shocked so much by this statement as by the eerie calm with which she delivered it. “Oh, my God,” I said.

“We cut its throat. Then we took turns holding it over each other, so it bled on our heads and hands. It was awful. I nearly got sick.”

It seemed to me that the wisdom of deliberately covering oneself with blood—even pig blood—immediately after committing a murder was questionable, but all I said was: “Why did he want to do that?”

“Murder is pollution. The murderer defiles everyone he comes into contact with. And the only way to purify blood is through blood. We let the pig bleed on us. Then we went inside and washed it off. After that, we were okay.”

“Are you trying to tell me,” I said, “that—”

“Oh, don’t worry,” she said hastily. “I don’t think he plans on doing anything like that this time.”

“Why? Didn’t it work?”

She failed to catch the sarcasm of this. “Oh, no,” she said. “I think it

worked, all right.”

“Then why not do it again?”

“Because I think Henry has got the idea that it might upset you.” There was the fumble of a key in the lock, and a few moments later

Charles plunged through the door. He shouldered his coat off and let it fall in a heap on the rug.

“Hello, hello,” he sang, lurching inside and shedding his jacket in the same fashion. He had not come into the living room, but made an abrupt turn into the hallway which led to bedrooms and bath. A door opened, then another. “Milly, my girl,” I heard him call. “Where are you, honey?”

“Oh, dear,” said Camilla. Out loud, she said: “We’re in here,


Charles reappeared. His tie was now loosened and his hair was wild. “Camilla,” he said, leaning against the doorframe, “Camilla,” and then he saw me.

“You,” he said, not too politely. “What are you doing here?”

“We’re just having some tea,” said Camilla. “Would you like some?” “No.” He turned and disappeared into the hall again. “Too late.

Going to bed.”

A door slammed. Camilla and I looked at each other. I stood up. “Well,” I said, “better be heading home.”


There were still search parties, but the number of participating townspeople had shrunk dramatically, and almost no students remained at all. The operation had turned tight, secretive, professional. I heard the police had brought in a psychic, a fingerprint expert, a special team of bloodhounds trained at Dannemora. Perhaps because I imagined that I was tainted with a secret pollution, imperceptible to most but perhaps discernible to the nose of a dog (in movies, the dog is always the first to know the suave and unsuspected vampire for what it is), the thought of the bloodhounds made me superstitious and I tried to stay as far away from dogs as I could, all dogs, even the dopey Labrador mutts who belonged to the ceramics teacher and were always running around with their tongues hanging out, looking for a game of Frisbee. Henry—imagining, perhaps, some trembling Kassandra gibbering prophecies to a chorus of policemen— was far more concerned about the psychic. “If they’re going to find us out,” he said, with glum certainty, “that’s how it’s going to happen.”

“Certainly you don’t believe in that stuff.”

He gave me a look of indescribable contempt.

“You amaze me,” he said. “You think nothing exists if you can’t see it.”

The psychic was a young mother from upstate New York. An electrical shock from some jumper cables had put her into a coma from which she emerged, three weeks later, able to “know” things by handling an object or touching a stranger’s hand. The police had used her successfully in a number of missing-person cases. Once she had found the body of a strangled child by merely pointing to an area on a surveyor’s map. Henry, who was so superstitious that he sometimes left a saucer of milk outside his door to appease any malevolent spirits who might happen to wander by, watched her, fascinated, as she

walked alone on the edge of campus—thick glasses, suburban car coat, red hair tied up in a polka-dot scarf.

“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “I don’t dare risk meeting her. But I should like to talk to her very much.”

The majority of our classmates, however, were thrown into an uproar by the information—accurate or not, I still don’t know—that the Drug Enforcement Agency had brought in agents and was conducting an undercover investigation. Théophile Gautier, writing about the effect of Vigny’s Chatterton on the youth of Paris, said that in the nineteenth-century night one could practically hear the crack of the solitary pistols: here, now, in Hampden, the night was alive with the flushing of toilets. Pillheads, cokeheads staggered around glassy-eyed, dazed at their sudden losses. Someone flushed so much pot down one of the toilets in the sculpture studio they had to get somebody in from the Water Department to dig up the septic tank.


About four-thirty on Monday afternoon, Charles showed up at my room. “Hello,” he said. “Want to get something to eat?”

“Where’s Camilla?”

“Somewhere, I don’t know,” he said, his pale glance skittering across my room. “Do you want to come?”

“Well … sure,” I said.

He brightened. “Good. I’ve got a taxi downstairs.”


The taxi driver—a florid man named Junior who’d driven Bunny and me into town that first fall afternoon, and who in three days would be driving Bunny back to Connecticut for the last time, this time in a hearse—looked back at us in the rear-view mirror as we pulled out onto College Drive. “You boys going to the Brassiere?” he said.

He meant the Brasserie. It was the little joke he always had with us. “Yes,” I said.

“No,” said Charles quite suddenly. He was slouched down childishly low against the door, staring straight ahead and drumming on the armrest with his fingers. “We want to go to 1910 Catamount Street.”

“Where’s that?” I said to him.

“Oh, I hope you don’t mind,” he said, almost looking at me but not quite. “Just feel like a change. It’s not far and besides, I’m sick of the food at the Brasserie, aren’t you?”


The place where we wound up—a bar called the Farmer’s Inn—was

not remarkable for its food, or its decor—folding chairs and Formica tables—or for its sparse clientele, which was mostly rural, drunken, and over sixty-five. It was, in fact, inferior to the Brasserie in every respect but one, which was that really very sizable shots of off-brand whiskey could be got at the bar for fifty cents each.

We sat at the end of the bar by the television set. A basketball game was on. The barmaid—in her fifties, with turquoise eye shadow and lots of turquoise rings to match—looked us over, our suits and ties. She seemed startled by Charles’s order of two double whiskeys and a club sandwich. “What the hey,” she said, in a voice like a macaw. “They’re letting you boys have a snort now and then, huh?”

I didn’t know what she meant—was this some dig at our clothes, at Hampden College, did she want to see our IDs? Charles, who only the moment before had been sunk in gloom, glanced up and fixed her with a smile of great warmth and sweetness. He had a way with waitresses. They always hovered over him in restaurants and went to all kinds of special trouble on his behalf.

This one looked at him—pleased, incredulous—and barked with laughter. “Well, ain’t that a kick,” she said hoarsely, reaching with a heavily ringed hand for the Silva-Thin burning in the ashtray beside her. “And here I thought you Mormon kids that went around wasn’t even suppose to drink Coca-Cola.”

As soon as she sauntered back to the kitchen to turn in our order (“Bill!” we heard her saying, behind the swinging doors. “Hey, Bill! Listen to this!”), the smile faded from Charles’s face. He reached for his drink and offered a humorless shrug when I tried to catch his eye.

“Sorry,” he said. “I hope you don’t mind coming here. It’s cheaper than the Brasserie and we won’t see anybody.”

He was not in a mood to talk—ebullient sometimes, he could also be as mute and sulky as a child—and he drank steadily, with both his elbows on the bar and his hair falling down in his face. When his sandwich came he picked it apart, ate the bacon and left the rest, while I drank my drink and watched the Lakers. It was weird to be there, in that clammy dark bar in Vermont, and watching them play. Back in California, at my old college, they’d had a pub called Falstaff’s with a wide-screen television; I’d had a dopey friend named Carl who used to drag me there to drink dollar beer and watch basketball. He was probably there now, on a redwood bar stool, watching this exact game.

I was thinking these depressing thoughts and others like them, and

Charles was on his fourth or fifth whiskey when somebody started switching the television with a remote control: “Jeopardy,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “MacNeil/Lehrer,” at last a local talk show. It was called “Tonight in Vermont.” The set was styled after a New England farmhouse, with mock Shaker furniture and antique farm equipment, pitchforks and so forth, hanging from the clapboard backdrop. Liz Ocavello was the host. In imitation of Oprah and Phil, she had a question-and-answer period at the end of each show, generally not too lively since her guests tended to be pretty tame—the State Commissioner for Veterans’ Affairs, Shriners announcing a blood drive (“What’s that address again, Joe?”).

Her guest that evening, though it was several moments before I realized it, was William Hundy. He had on a suit—not the blue leisure suit but an old one the likes of which a rural preacher might wear— and he was talking authoritatively, for some reason I did not immediately understand, about Arabs and OPEC. “That OPEC,” he said, “is the reason we don’t have Texaco filling stations anymore. I remember when I was a boy it was Texaco stations all over the place but these Arabs, it was some kind of, what you call, leverage buyout


Look,” I said to Charles, but by the time I’d got him to glance up from his stupor they’d switched back to “Jeopardy.”

“What?” he said. “Nothing.”

“Jeopardy,” “Wheel of Fortune,” back to “MacNeil-Lehrer” for kind of a long time until someone yelled, “Turn that shit off, Dotty.”

“Well, what you want to watch, then?”

“ ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ ” shouted a hoarse chorus.

But “Wheel of Fortune” was going off the air (Vanna blowing a glittery kiss) and the next thing I knew we were back in the simulated farmhouse with William Hundy. He was talking now about his appearance the previous morning on the “Today” show.

“Look,” said someone, “there’s that guy runs Redeemed Repair.” “He don’t run it.”

“Who does, then?”

“Him and Bud Alcorn both do.” “Aw, shut up, Bobby.”

“Naw,” said Mr. Hundy, “didn’t see Willard Scott. Reckon I wouldn’t have known what to said if I had. It’s a big operation they got there, course it don’t look so big on the TV.”

I kicked Charles’s foot.

“Yeah,” he said, without interest, and brought his glass up with an unsteady hand.

I was surprised to see how outspoken Mr. Hundy had become in just four days. I was even more surprised to see how warmly the studio audience responded to him—asking concerned questions on topics ranging from the criminal justice system to the role of the small businessman in the community, roaring with laughter at his feeble jokes. It seemed to me that such popularity could only be incidental to what he had seen, or claimed to see. His stunned and stuttering air was gone. Now, with his hands folded over his stomach, answering questions with the pacific smile of a pontiff granting dispensations, he was so perfectly at his ease that there was something palpably dishonest about it. I wondered why no one else, apparently, could see it.

A small, dark man in shirtsleeves, who had been waving his hand in

the air for some time, was finally called upon by Liz and stood up. “My name is Adnan Nassar and I am Palestinian-American,” he said in a rush. “I came to this country from Syria nine years ago and have since then earned American citizenship and am assistant manager of the Pizza Pad on Highway 6.”

Mr. Hundy put his head to the side. “Well, Adnan,” he said cordially, “I expect that story would be pretty unusual in your own country. But here, that’s the way the system works. For everybody. And that’s regardless of your race or the color of your skin.” Applause. Liz, microphone in hand, made her way down the aisle and pointed at a lady with a bouffant hairdo, but the Palestinian angrily waved his

arms and the camera shifted back to him.

“That is not the point,” he said. “I am an Arab and I resent the racial slurs you make against my people.”

Liz walked back to the Palestinian and put her hand on his arm, Oprah-style, to comfort him. William Hundy, sitting in his mock-Shaker chair on the podium, shifted slightly as he leaned forward. “You like it here?” he said shortly.


“You want to go back?”

“Now,” Liz said loudly. “Nobody is trying to say that—”

“Because the boats,” said Mr. Hundy, even louder, “run both ways.

Dotty, the barmaid, laughed admiringly and took a drag off her cigarette. “That’s telling him,” she said.

“Where your family comes from?” said the Arab sarcastically. “You American Indian or what?”

Mr. Hundy did not appear to have heard this. “I’ll pay for you to go back,” he said. “How much is a one-way ticket to Baghdad going for these days? If you want me to, I’ll—”

“I think,” Liz said hastily, “that you’ve misunderstood what this gentleman is trying to say. He’s just trying to make the point that—” She put her arm around the Palestinian’s shoulders and he threw it off in a rage.

“All night long you say offensive things about Arabs,” he screamed. “You don’t know what Arab is.” He beat on his chest with his fist. “I know it, in my heart.”

“You and your buddy Saddam Hussein.”

“How dare you say we are all greedy, driving big cars? This is very offensive to me. I am Arabic and I conserve the natural resource—”

“By setting fire to all them oil wells, eh?” “—by driving a Toyota Corolla.”

“I wasn’t talking about you in particular,” said Hundy. “I was talking about them OPEC creepos and them sick people kidnapped that boy. You think they’re driving around in Toyota Corollas? You think we condone terrorism here? Is that what they do in your country?”

“You lie,” shouted the Arab.

For a moment, in confusion, the camera went to Liz Ocavello; she was staring, without seeing, right out of the screen and I knew she was thinking exactly what I was thinking, oh, boy, oh, boy, here it comes …

“It ain’t a lie,” said Hundy hotly. “I know. I been in the service station business for thirty years. You think I don’t remember, when Carter was President, you had us over such a barrel, back in nineteen and seventy-five? And now all you people coming over here, acting like you own the place, with all your chick peas and your filthy little pocket breads?”

Liz was looking to the side, trying to mouth instructions. The Arab screamed out a frightful obscenity.

“Hold it! Stop!” shouted Liz Ocavello in despair.

Mr. Hundy leapt to his feet, eyes blazing, pointing a trembling forefinger into the audience. “Sand niggers!” he shouted bitterly. “Sand niggers! Sand—

The camera jerked away and panned wildly to the side of the set, a tangle of black cables, hooded lights. It wavered in and out of focus

and then, with a jerk, a commercial for McDonald’s came on the screen.

“Whooo-hoo,” someone shouted appreciatively. There was scattered clapping.

“Did you hear that?” said Charles, after a pause.

I had forgotten all about him. His voice was slurred and his hair fell sweaty across his forehead. “Be careful,” I said to him in Greek, and nodded toward the barmaid. “She can hear you.

He mumbled something, wobbling on his bar stool, all padded glitter-vinyl and chrome.

“Let’s go. It’s late,” I said, fumbling in my pocket for money.

Unsteadily, his gaze locked on mine, he leaned over and caught hold of my wrist. The light from the jukebox caught and glinted in his eyes, making them strange, crazed, the luminous killer eyes that sometimes glow unexpectedly from a friend’s face in a snapshot.

“Shut up, old man,” he said. “Listen.”

I pulled my hand away and swung round on the stool but just as I did it I heard a long, dry rumble. Thunder.

We looked at each other. “It’s raining,” he whispered.


All that night it fell, warm rain, dripping from the eaves and pattering at my window, while I lay flat on my back with my eyes wide open, listening.

All that night it rained and all the next morning: warm, gray, coming down soft and steady as a dream.


When I woke up I knew they were going to find him that day, knew it in my stomach from the moment I looked out my window at the snow, rotten and pocky, patches of slimy grass and everywhere drip drip drip.

It was one of those mysterious, oppressive days we sometimes had at Hampden, where the mountains that lowered at the horizon were swallowed up in fog and the world seemed light and empty, dangerous somehow. Walking around campus, the wet grass squishing beneath your feet, you felt as if you were in Olympus, Valhalla, some old abandoned land above the clouds; the landmarks that you knew— clocktower, houses—floating up like memories from a former life, isolated and disconnected in the mist.

Drizzle and damp. Commons smelled like wet clothes, everything

dark and subdued. I found Henry and Camilla upstairs at a table by the window, a full ashtray between them, Camilla with her chin propped in her hand and a cigarette burning low between her ink-stained fingers.

The main dining room was on the second floor, in a modern addition that jutted over a loading dock in the back. Huge, rain-splashed panes of glass—tinted gray, so they made the day seem drearier than it was—walled us in on three sides and we had a prime view of the loading dock itself, where the butter and egg trucks pulled up early in the morning, and of the slick black road that wound through the trees and disappeared in the mist in the direction of North Hampden.

There was tomato soup for lunch, coffee with skim milk because they were out of plain. Rain pittered against the plate glass windows. Henry was distracted. The FBI had paid him another visit the night before—what they wanted he didn’t say—and he was talking on and on in a low voice about Schliemann’s Ilios, the fingertips of his big square hands poised on the table’s edge as if it were a Ouija board. When I’d lived with him over the winter, he would sometimes go on for hours in these didactic monologues, reeling off a pedantic and astonishingly accurate torrent of knowledge with the slow, transfixed calm of a subject under hypnosis. He was talking about the excavation of Hissarlik: “a terrible place, a cursed place,” he said dreamily—cities and cities buried beneath each other, cities torn down, cities burnt and their bricks melted to glass … a terrible place, he said absently, a cursed place, nests of tiny brown adders of the sort that the Greeks call antelion and thousands and thousands of little owl-headed death gods (goddesses, really, some hideous prototype of Athena) staring fanatical and rigid from the engraved illustrations.

I didn’t know where Francis was, but there was no need to ask

about Charles. The night before I’d had to bring him home in a taxi, help him upstairs and into bed, where, judging from the condition in which I’d left him, he still was now. Two cream cheese and marmalade sandwiches lay wrapped in napkins by Camilla’s plate. She hadn’t been there when I brought Charles home, and she looked like she’d just got out of bed herself: tousle-haired, no lipstick, wearing a gray wool sweater that came down past her wrists. Smoke drifted from her cigarette in wisps that were the color of the sky outside. A tiny white speck of a car came singing down the wet road from town, far away, twisting with the black curves and growing larger by the


It was late. Lunch was over, people were leaving. A misshapen old janitor trudged in with mop and pail and began, with weary grunting noises, to slop water on the floor by the beverage center.

Camilla was staring out the window. Suddenly, her eyes got wide. Slowly, incredulously, she raised her head; and then she was scrambling out of her chair, craning to see.

I saw, too, and jumped forward. An ambulance was parked directly beneath us. Two attendants, pursued by a pack of photographers, hurried past with their heads bent against the rain and a stretcher between them. The form upon it was covered with a sheet but, just before they shoved it through the double doors (long, easy motion, like bread sliding into the oven) and slammed them shut, I saw, hanging down from the edge, five or six inches of yellow rain slicker.

Shouts, far away, downstairs in Commons; doors slamming, a growing confusion, voices shouting down voices and then one hoarse voice, rising above the others: “Is he living?”

Henry took a deep breath. Then he closed his eyes; and exhaling sharply, a hand to his chest, he fell back in his chair as if he’d been shot.


This is what happened.

At about one-thirty on Tuesday afternoon, Holly Goldsmith, an eighteen-year-old freshman from Taos, New Mexico, decided to take her golden retriever, Milo, for a walk.

Holly, who studied modern dance, knew of the search for Bunny but like most students of her year had not participated in it, taking advantage of the unexpected recess to catch up on sleep and study for midterms. Quite understandably, she did not wish to run into a search party while on her outing. Therefore she decided to take Milo out behind the tennis courts to the ravine, since it had been canvassed days before and was, besides, a spot of which the dog was especially fond.

This is what Holly said:

“When we were out of sight of campus, I unhooked Milo’s leash so he could run around by himself. He likes to do that.…

“So I was just standing there [at the edge of the ravine] waiting for him. He’d scrambled over the embankment and was running around and barking, usual stuff. I’d forgot his tennis ball that day. I thought it was in my pocket but it wasn’t, so I went off and found a few sticks to

throw to him. When I came back to the edge of the embankment, I saw he had something in his teeth, shaking it from side to side. He wouldn’t come when I called him. I thought he had a rabbit or something.…

“I guess Milo had dug him up, his head and his, um, chest, I guess— I couldn’t see very well. It was the glasses I noticed … slipped off one [ear] and kind of flopping back and forth like … yes, please … licking his face … I thought for a moment he was …” [unintelligible].


The three of us went rapidly downstairs (gaping janitor, cooks peeping from the kitchen, the cafeteria ladies in their nurse cardigans leaning over the balustrade) past the snack bar, past the post office where for once the red-wigged lady at the switchboard had put aside her afghan and her bag of variegated yarns and was standing in the doorway, crumpled Kleenex in hand, following us curiously with her eyes as we rushed through the hall and into the main room of Commons, where stood a cluster of grim-looking policemen, the sheriff, the game warden, security guards, a strange girl crying and someone taking pictures and everybody talking at once until someone looked up at us and shouted: “Hey! You! Didn’t you know the boy?”

Flashbulbs went off everywhere and there was a riot of microphones and camcorders in our faces.

“How long had you known him?” “… drug-related incident?”

“… traveled across Europe, is that right?”

Henry passed a hand over his face; I’ll never forget the way he looked, white as talc, beads of sweat on his upper lip and the light bouncing off his glasses … “Leave me alone,” he muttered, seizing Camilla by the wrist and trying to push through to the door.

They crowded forward to block his path. “… care to comment …?”

“… best friends?”

The black snout of a camcorder was thrust in his face. With a sweep of his arm Henry knocked it away and it fell on the floor with a loud crack, batteries rolling in all directions. The owner—a fat man in a Mets cap—shrieked, stooped partway to the floor in consternation, then sprang up, cursing, as if to grab the retreating Henry by the collar. His fingers brushed the back of Henry’s jacket and Henry turned, surprisingly quick.

The man shrank. It was funny, but people never seemed to notice at

first glance how big Henry was. Maybe it was because of his clothes, which were like one of those lame but curiously impenetrable disguises from a comic book (why does no one ever see that “bookish” Clark Kent, without his glasses, is Superman?). Or maybe it was a question of his making people see. He had the far more remarkable talent of making himself invisible—in a room, in a car, a virtual ability to dematerialize at will—and perhaps this gift was only the converse of that one: the sudden concentration of his wandering molecules rendering his shadowy form solid, all at once, a metamorphosis startling to the viewer.


The ambulance had gone. The roads stretched out slick and empty in the drizzle. Agent Davenport was hurrying up the steps to Commons, head down, black shoes slapping on the wet marble. When he saw us, he stopped. Sciola, behind him, climbed laboriously up the last two or three steps, bracing his knee with his palm. He stood behind Davenport and regarded us for a moment, breathing hard. “I’m sorry,” he said.

An airplane went by overhead, invisible above the clouds. “He is dead, then,” said Henry.

“Afraid so.”

The buzz of the airplane receded in the damp, windy distance. “Where was he?” said Henry at last. He was pale, pale and sweaty

at the temples but perfectly composed. There was a flat sound in his voice.

“In the woods,” said Davenport.

“Not far,” Sciola said, rubbing with a knuckle at his pouchy eye. “Half a mile from here.”

“Were you there?”

Sciola stopped rubbing his eye. “What?” “Were you there when they found him?”

“We were at the Blue Ben having some lunch,” said Davenport briskly. He was breathing heavily through the nostrils and his ginger brush cut was beaded with droplets of condensed mist. “We went down for a look. Right now we’re on the way to see the family.”

“Don’t they know?” said Camilla, after a shocked pause.

“It’s not that,” said Sciola. He was patting his chest, fumbling gently with long yellow fingers in the pocket of his overcoat. “We’re taking them a release form. We’d like to send him down to the lab in Newark, have some tests run. Cases like this, though—” his hand

closed upon something, very slowly he drew out a crumpled pack of Pall Malls—“cases like this, it’s hard to get the family to sign. Can’t say I blame them. These folks have been waiting around a week already, the family’s all together, they’re going to want to go ahead and bury him and get it over with.…”

“What happened?” said Henry. “Do you know?”

Sciola rummaged for a light, found it, got his cigarette lit after two or three tries. “Hard to say,” he said, letting the match fall, still burning, from his fingers. “He was at the bottom of a drop-off with a broken neck.”

“You don’t think he might have killed himself?”

Sciola’s expression did not change, but a wisp of smoke curled from his nostrils in a manner subtly indicative of surprise. “Why do you say that?”

“Because someone inside said it just now.”

He glanced over at Davenport. “I wouldn’t pay any attention to these people, son,” he said. “I don’t know what the police are going to find, and it’s going to be their decision, you understand, but I don’t think they’ll rule it a suicide.”


He blinked at us placidly, his eyes balled and heavy-lidded like a tortoise’s. “There’s no indication of it,” he said. “That I’m aware. The sheriff thinks maybe he was out there, he wasn’t dressed warm enough, the weather got bad and maybe he was just in too big of a hurry to get home.…”

“And they don’t know for sure,” said Davenport, “but it looks like he might’ve been drinking.”

Sciola made a weary, Italianate gesture of resignation. “Even if he wasn’t,” he said. “The ground was muddy. It was raining. It could’ve been dark for all we know.”

Nobody said anything for several long moments.

“Look, son,” said Sciola, not unkindly. “It’s just my opinion, but if you ask me, your friend didn’t kill himself. I saw the place he went over. The brush at the edge was all, you know—” he made a feeble, flicking gesture at the air.

“Torn up,” said Davenport brusquely. “Dirt under his nails. When that kid went down he was grabbing at anything he could get a hold of.”

“Nobody’s trying to say how it happened,” said Sciola. “I’m just saying, don’t believe everything you hear. That’s a dangerous place up

there, they ought to fence it off or something.… Maybe you’d better sit down a minute, you think, honey?” he said to Camilla, who was looking a bit green.

“The college is going to get stuck either way,” said Davenport. “From the way that lady in Student Services was talking I can already see them trying to dodge liability. If he got drunk at that college party.… There was a suit like this up in Nashua, where I’m from, about two years ago. A kid got drunk at some fraternity party, passed out in a snowbank, they didn’t find him till the plows came through. I guess it all depends on how drunk they were and where they got their last drink but even if he wasn’t drunk it looks pretty bad for the college, doesn’t it? Kid’s off at school, he has an accident like this right on the campus? All due respect to the parents, but I’ve met them, and they’re the type’s gonna sue.”

“How do you think it happened?” said Henry to Sciola.

This line of questioning did not seem to me to be a wise one, especially here, now, but Sciola grinned, a gaunt, toothy expanse, like an old dog or an opossum—too many teeth, discolored, stained. “Me?” he said.


He didn’t say anything for a moment, just took a drag of his cigarette and nodded. “It doesn’t make any difference what I think, son,” he said after a pause. “This isn’t a federal case.”


“He means it’s not a federal case,” Davenport said sharply. “There’s no federal offense committed here. It’s for the local cops to decide. The reason they called us up here in the first place was because of that nut, you know, from the gas station, and he didn’t have anything to do with it. D.C. faxed us a lot of information on him before we came. You want to know what kind of a nut he is? He used to send all this crank mail to Anwar Sadat in the 1970s. Ex-Lax, dog turds, mail order catalogues with pictures of nude Oriental women in them. Nobody paid much attention to him, but when Mr. Sadat was assassinated in, when was it, ’82, the CIA ran a check on Hundy and it was the Agency made available the files we saw. Never been arrested or anything but what a nut. Runs up thousand-dollar phone bills making prank calls to the Middle East. I saw this letter he wrote to Golda Meir where he called her his kissing cousin.… I mean, you have to be suspicious when somebody like him steps forward. Seemed harmless enough, wasn’t even after the reward—we had an

undercover approach him with a phony check, he wouldn’t touch it. But it’s the ones like him that you’ve really got to wonder. I remember Morris Lee Harden back in ’78, seemed like the sweetest thing going, repairing all those clocks and watches and giving them to the poor kids, but I’ll never forget the day they went out behind that jewelry shop of his with the backhoe.…”

“These kids don’t remember Morris, Harv,” said Sciola, letting the cigarette fall from his fingers. “That was before their time.”

We stood there a moment or two longer, an awkward semicircle on the flagstones, and just as it seemed that everyone was going to open his mouth at once and say he had to be going, I heard a strange, choked noise from Camilla. I looked over at her in amazement. She was crying.

For a moment, no one seemed to know what to do. Davenport gave Henry and me a disgusted look and turned half away as if to say: this is all your fault.

Sciola, blinking in slow, somber consternation, twice reached to put his hand upon her arm, and on the third try his slow fingertips finally made contact with her elbow. “Dear,” he said to her, “dear, you want us to drop you off home on our way?”

Their car—a car you’d expect, a black Ford sedan—was parked at the bottom of the hill, in the gravel lot behind the Science Building. Camilla walked ahead between the two of them. Sciola was talking to her, as soothingly as to a child; we could hear him above the crunching footsteps, the drip of water and the sift of wind in the trees overhead. “Is your brother at home?” he said.


He nodded slowly. “You know,” he said, “I like your brother. He’s a good kid. It’s funny, but I didn’t know a boy and a girl could be twins. Did you know that, Harv?” he said over her head.


“I didn’t know it, either. Did you look more alike when you were little kids? I mean, there’s a family resemblance, but your hair’s not even quite the same color. My wife, she’s got some cousins, they’re twins. They both look alike and they both work for the Welfare Department, too.” He paused peacefully. “You and your brother, you get along pretty well, don’t you?”

She made a muffled reply.

He nodded somberly. “That’s nice,” he said. “I bet you kids have some interesting stories. About ESP and things like that. My wife’s

cousins, they go to these twin conventions they have sometimes, you wouldn’t believe the things they come back and tell us.”

White sky. Trees fading at the skyline, the mountains gone. My hands dangled from the cuffs of my jacket as if they weren’t my own. I never got used to the way the horizon there could just erase itself and leave you marooned, adrift, in an incomplete dreamscape that was like a sketch for the world you knew—the outline of a single tree standing in for a grove, lamp-posts and chimneys floating up out of context before the surrounding canvas was filled in—an amnesia-land, a kind of skewed Heaven where the old landmarks were recognizable but spaced too far apart, and disarranged, and made terrible by the emptiness around them.

An old shoe was lying on the asphalt in front of the loading dock, where the ambulance had been only minutes before. It wasn’t Bunny’s shoe. I don’t know whose it was or how it got there. It was just an old tennis shoe lying on its side. I don’t know why I remember that now, or why it made such an impression on me.

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